ELCA companions in Indonesia
Who are our companions in Indonesia?
Who is the Simalungun Protestant Christian Church (Gereja Kristen Protesten Simalungun, GKPS) and what are its ministries?
A woman in the fishing village of Kuala Bubon, Indonesia
The Simalungun Protestant Christian Church (Gereja Kristen Protesten Simalungun, GKPS
) a member of the Lutheran World Federation
, has approximately 200,000 members, 600 congregations, 170 ordained pastors and 88 evangelists. The vast majority of church members are from rural areas and GKPS has extensive education, social service, and healthcare programs serving these communities. The church has 38 schools, including 2 kindergartens, 21 primary schools, 9 junior high schools, 2 senior high schools and 4 vocational schools. It also operates two hospitals. Bethesda Hospital in Saribudolok operates a community health program providing immunization and health education to adjacent communities.Who is the the Indonesian Christian Church (Huria Kristen Indonesia, HKI) and what are its ministries?
The Indonesian Christian Church (Huria Kristen Indonesia HKI
), a member of the Lutheran World Federation, has 350,000 members, 730 congregations, 155 pastors and more than 700 lay church workers. With its headquarters located in Pematangsiantar, it is a vibrant church serving Sumatra and beyond. Examples of its holistic ministries include its 20 junior high and high schools, an orphanage, comprehensive community development programs for the rural population as well as a Committee for HIV/AIDS to help sensitize the population on this disease.Who is the Protestant Christian Batak Church (Huria Christian Batak Protestan, HKBP) and what are its ministries?
Indonesian students performing
With nearly four million members, the Protestant Christian Batak Church (Huria Kristen Protestan Church, HKBP
), a member of the Lutheran World Federation, is the largest Lutheran church in Indonesia and one of the largest Lutheran churches in the world. While the majority of its members are from rural areas, engaging in small-scale farming, a substantial portion reside in cities and hold professional and leadership positions in both public and private sectors. The church is divided into 26 districts, with 1,300 ordained pastors and more than 220 women pastors. In addition, there are nearly 400 teacher-preachers, 355 Bible Women and 230 Deaconesses.
The ministry of the HKBP church is both diverse and extensive. For instance, the HKBP Theological Seminary (Sekolan Thinggi Theologia, STT-HKBP) and the Deaconess School are the theological and ministerial training institutions of HKBP. The Nommensen University located both in Medan and Pemantangsianter, with nearly 9,000 students, is one of the largest Lutheran universities in the world. In addition, the HKBP Hospital in Belige has a long history serving the adjacent rural areas near Lake Toba. Extensive rural community development programs are under the arm of the Diakonia Department of the HKBP headquarters.
STT Abdi Sabda or Abdi Sabda Theological Seminary is an ecumenical theological institution founded in 1967. It is one of the three largest theological institutions in North Sumatra with approximately 450 students; the majority of its student body comes from the 11 LWF member churches in Indonesia. Programs offered include Bachelors of Divinity (BD), Bachelors of Education, Master of Divinity and Master of Theology.How do the companions in Indonesia and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America accompany one another in ministry?
A woman working with textiles
Through the churchwide ELCA Global Mission unit, the ELCA relates to and is in bilateral relationship with over 80 companion churches and institutions. The ELCA Global Mission unit stewards church-to-church relationships with these companion churches in Indonesia.
These relationships are deepened and extended by the HKBP's relationships, through the ELCA Companion Synods program, with the ELCA Indiana Kentucky Synod and the Alaska Synod.Churchwide funding
through the ELCA Global Mission unit supports key priorities identified by the companions in Indonesia. The ELCA has one mission personnel in Indonesia.
ELCA journeys with the three companion churches, other LWF churches in Indonesia, as well as other companion institutions in the areas of theological education, leadership development, healthcare, and community development. One of the most significant current developments is ELCA collaboration with the Nommensen University, the 11 LWF Lutheran Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, as well as the Lutheran World Relief and the Austrian Lutheran World Services in the launching of a multi-year Center for Disaster Risk Management and Community Development Studies based at Nommensen University.
In addition, the ELCA also accompanies the Satya Wacana Christian University as well as the YAKKUM medical foundation in its educational and medical ministries.
The ELCA also funds significant work through the Lutheran World Federation and Lutheran World Relief.
The Lutheran World Federation, with a membership of 140 churches (including the ELCA) and 68 million people, provides space for Lutherans from around the world to share joys, challenges, and expertise as they seek the healing of the world. ELCA World Hunger funds help support the Department for World Service (DWS), the LWF’s relief and development arm, and the Department for Mission and Development (DMD), which focuses on holistic ministries through which the church participates in God’s mission to all creation.
ELCA World Hunger funds help support the Department of World Service work in India such as:
- Holistic Community Development Program
- Training of Trainers on HIVand AIDS issues
- Theological and Practical Training Program
The ELCA also works in Indonesia through Lutheran World Relief (LWR). A ministry of the ELCA, LWR is a U.S.-based agency that works with community-based partners in 50 countries. ELCA World Hunger funds help support the work that focuses on:
- Providing seeds for farmers internally displaced by the tsunami and facilitating their access to skills training
- Educating tsunami survivors on their rights, equipping them with the skills to advocate for these rights, and training community leaders to organize their communities and find just solutions to their problems
- Constructing high-quality homes for families living in temporary shelters
- Rehabilitating community water and sanitation by drilling boreholes, digging wells, and constructing latrines
- Training community volunteers in basic skills for psychosocial care and counseling for children
ELCA funds also support Church World Service (CWS), which works in Indonesia. Supported by 36 denominations, including the ELCA, CWS is a U.S.-based ecumenical organization that works with partners to eradicate hunger and poverty and to promote peace and justice around the world.
Indonesia: the context where the Lutheran churches serves
Kuala Bubon, a fishing village rebuilt after the 2004 tsunami with the help of the ELCA.
Indonesia is an archipelago of islands between the Indian and Pacific Ocean with a population of 200 million of which 88% are Muslim, 5% are Protestant, 3% are Roman Catholic, 2% are Hindu, 2%, are Buddhist and other religions. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world and in some parts of Indonesia, particularly Aceh, the Muslim majority dictates practices. Aceh is the only province in the country that is allowed to implement Shari’a law. Although Indonesia is not officially a Muslim nation, for all intents and purposes, it functions as one. Interreligious violence affects the day-to-day lives of many Christians.
Indonesia struggles with high unemployment, a fragile bank system, high corruption, and an inadequate infrastructure. In 2006 the government raised the fuel prices by 126% creating a strain in all sectors of the economy. The majority of Indonesians are involved in agriculture, then industry, and finally the service sector. There is a constant outflow of Indonesians to work overseas in Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Saudi Arabia; a significant number of these workers are victimized.
The December 2004 tsunami deeply affected the population, leaving 130,000 people dead, 37,000 missing, and 570,000 displaced. Millions of dollars have been pledged by governments, NGOs, and religious organizations to rebuild the tsunami-affected areas. Since the tsunami there have been floods, volcano eruptions, and additional, smaller tsunamis. Disaster preparedness, as well as response and relief, continue to be high priorities for Indonesia.
For more information on Indonesia, type “Indonesia" into an online search engine or visit: