SIBU: Catholic church’s members numbering more than 650 as like any other years participated whole heartedly in this year’s Christmas procession on Saturday night. Joining Christians from other denominations, together they shared the joy and peace of Christmas in the praise and worship including the singing of hymns. Borneo Evangelical Mission (BEM) hosted the procession this year which saw the participants converging at the town square for songs, prayers and scripture readings.

Annual Christmas parade, A time to share Joy and Love by Andy Chua

The two-hour long procession around the town begun after the lighting of the Christmas candle by the participating church leaders, including Sibu Municipal Council chairman, Datuk Tiong Thai King and Sibu Resident, Hii Chang Kee. The 20-odd colorful floats attracted the most attention as they went through the route. The participating churches included Roman Catholic, Anglican, Borneo Evangelical Mission (BEM), Methodist, 611 Bread of Life, Living Waters, Sarawak Full Gospel, City Harvest Fellowship, Kasih Agape, Baptist Church Sibu Jaya and Calvary Bible Presbyterian.

Chairperson of Association of Churches in Sarawak (Sibu), Reverend Ting Leh Na in speaking before a crowd of 10,000 people, proudly declared that Sarawak is the only state in the country where Christmas procession is held annually which involved Christians from various denominations. The event, she recalled had started in Sibu in the 1970s. Other towns and cities later followed suit. This included Sarikei, Bintulu, Miri and Kuching. “This procession started in Sibu in the 1970s. Since then it has become an important event throughout the state,” she said.

Rev. Ting who was also the organizing chairperson for this year’s procession said what made the event different from previous years was that all of the participants from the different churches were wearing the same red T-shirt with the words ‘The Greatest Gift” emblazoned at their back of their shirt. “We are celebrating the greatest gift of God to mankind which is the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas day. So this procession is aptly themed “The Greatest Gift.” she pointed out. In donning the same T-shirt, she said it reflected the spirit of unity, tolerance, and mutual understanding that were vital in instilling harmony, mutual and respect in a multi-religious and multi-racial country like Malaysia.

Another notable thing at this procession was the presence of people from other races and religions who do not want to give the procession a miss. “I am glad to note that Sarawakians of other races, cultures and religions are also gathering here to share the joy and peace with one another,” she added. On the fine weather during the procession, she said it happened four years once as other times, it rained. The state Association chairman Reverend Dato Dr Justin Wan said Sarikei, Bintulu, Miri and Kuching  had successfully organized their respective procession.