Datuk Bolly Puts Malaysia’s Anglicans On The Map
Whenever lists of famous people from Sarawak are published, it’s always those in arts, entertainment and sport who head the list, such as singer-songwriter Zee Avi, film director Tsai Ming Ling, Olympic diver Pandalela Rinong, actor Tony Eusoff or any one of at least a dozen highly successful artists and designers. However, if a list of Sarawakians most successful in their chosen careers were compiled, the top position would almost certainly belong to a humble man from a traditional Iban longhouse in Sri Aman Division.
The only Sarawakian to head a major international organisation, the Most Reverend Archbishop Datuk Bolly Lapok is not only Bishop of Kuching, but was appointed Primate of the Anglican Church in Southeast Asia in 2011. The first Sarawakian ever to lead a major international church, Datuk Bolly was ordained a deacon at the youthful age of 23 (a special dispensation had to be granted by the Archbishop of Canterbury because of his age), and has enjoyed a stellar career in the service of God and the Anglican Communion ever since.
Datuk Bolly attributes much of his success to his ancestral background, emphasising that his family were profoundly spiritual even before the coming of Christianity to Sarawak – his late grandfather was in fact a noted Iban shaman and spirit medium. However, most observers believe his rise in the church is largely due to his tireless work for inter-church unity through the Association of Churches in Sarawak, which he continues to head, as well as his impassioned advocacy for religious freedom.
One thing is certain, however. Thanks to Datuk Bolly the Anglican Church in Malaysia, previously seen as somewhat staid and conservative, is now attracting a great deal of media attention and commentary. If this translates to greater understanding and tolerance between churches and between faiths, the Primate will be a very happy man indeed.
Original text © Mike Reed, 2014. All rights reserved.
Despite the large Anglican population in Malaysia, especially Sabah and Sarawak, comparatively few Anglicans travel overseas for spiritual reasons – quite the opposite of their Roman Catholic brethren, who are keen pilgrims and visitors to religious shrines.
One reason for this is probably lack of opportunity – until now, nobody has designed tours and travel products that cater to Anglicans’ spiritual needs. This is why Suntravel is proud to introduce a range of tours designed specifically for Anglicans, that explore the history of their Mother Church in England and include a visit or an optional pilgrimage to the Anglican Communion’s only Marian Shrine, Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk.
Suntravel also offers a selection of tailor-made tours for Malaysia’s Baptists, Catholics and Methodists, and they too explore the roots of faith and trace the history of their respective churches, while also offering plenty of time for sightseeing and shopping. For further details, please visit the Faith & Pilgrimage section of this website, www.suntravelworld.com/faith.