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UAE: Church honoured for ‘unselfish service’ to community on 50th anniversary

Occasion also celebrates country as symbol of tolerance, says Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence

Staff Report
Mar Thoma Church is a true pillar of community, and a vibrant and important part of Abu Dhabi, an Emirati minister said during the parish’s golden jubilee valedictory function held in the Capital.

Sheikh Nahyan underlined that the grand occasion is also a celebration of the UAE as a symbol of peace and coexistence.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, noted that the church has been a “shining example of unselfish service” to the community.

“This celebration offers all of us a genuine cause for joy. The Mar Thoma Church has been a valued member of the Abu Dhabi community for 50 years. During these years, you have been an invaluable element of the global society of Abu Dhabi and the UAE. My greatest hope is that your next 30 years and beyond will be as blessed as your first 50,” the minister said during the function held at the church.

“This country stands today as a true global community where the values of tolerance, compassion and understanding are promoted and cherished.”

Sheikh Nahyan said the leaders and members of the church have been tirelessly promoting shared human values of peaceful coexistence, human fraternity and international cooperation.

“We are celebrating this joyful occasion at a time when the world needs examples of religious tolerance and mutual respect. You have shown over the years your strong conviction that it is tolerance and human fraternity that can transform the world for the good of us all.”

Sunjay Sudhir, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, noted the church has been a participant in the development of the Indian community and the UAE.

“This church complex must remain a symbol of tolerance and coexistence, not just a building but a rallying point for togetherness.”

Sunny Varkey, founder and chairman of Gems Education Group, pointed out that Sheikh Nahyan has been “instrumental” in securing land for the building of a house of worship.

“I thank the rulers of this great country for their support and vision,” he added.

The function was inaugurated by Most Rev Dr Theodosius Mar Thoma Metropolitan, and the ceremony was presided over by Rt Rev Thomas Mar Timotheos Episcopa.

50 years of ordination as priest

Later, the Metropolitan visits the newly constructed Church of South India (CSI) Parish Abu Dhabi in Abu Mureikha.

CSI Parish Vicar Rev Lalji M. Philip congratulated the Metropolitan on the completion of 50 years of his ordination as a priest.

The Metropolitan praised the CSI Parish members for taking up the challenge to construct the church amid the challenges faced because of the pandemic. He highlighted that the CSI Church built next to the BAPS Hindu temple is a “testament of the power of tolerance and human fraternity existing in the UAE”.Mar Thoma Church Vicar Jiju Joseph added: “The UAE is well-established all over the world as a home of unity and tolerance.”

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