Distinguished delegates, representatives, and friends – good evening.
Thank you to the Maluku Protestant Church, and especially the Ketua Sinode, for opening its doors to those of us visiting from the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta and our Consulate in Surabaya.
I know this church has opened its arms to Americans in the past, and we hope to continue to bring our communities together in the future.
It is an honor to be here to celebrate the 440th anniversary of the founding of the city of Ambon, and also to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Protestant Church of Maluku.
440 years—that’s a long time. You know, my country is only a little over 200 years old! But even though we’re a young country, and you have this long history, we have a lot in common.
Both Indonesia and the United States are countries that are known for both religious devotion and religious diversity. Our respect for religious values and the freedom to worship is a cornerstone of our multi-ethnic multi-religious democracies.
I am grateful to be here today as this historical church is a symbol of peace here in Maluku and has been a key player in creating unity.
It is encouraging to see that diverse communities that so recently experienced turmoil can come together in reconciliation and that this church has been a leader in creating that unity.
When I look around the world, I see a number of places that could learn from the model of Indonesia. That’s why one of our priorities is to work with your Government and groups like Muhammadiyah to help find ways to share with other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere your brand of tolerance, harmony, and rejection of religiously-motivated violence.
Indonesians understand that diversity makes for stronger, more prosperous, more vibrant societies.
So on behalf of the United States, I want to thank you for your work to strengthen this community and your country. I also want to thank you for your friendship. We look forward to continuing our good relations with this church and congregation.