16 active churches in Asia are UEM members. 13 of them are in Indonesia alone. The other member churches in the Asian region are in China, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.
Our Asia division, together with our regional office in Medan, North Sumatra, coordinates cooperation between UEM member churches in the Asian region. The Asian division maintains contact with the churches in the region as well as with Christian councils, other church organisations, and local cooperation partners, and organizes joint Asian programmes.
Thematically, joint programmes focus on such issues as training for pastors and church staff in pastoral care, dialogue with people of other faiths, microcredit and other socio-economic development projects, lobbying for human rights, sustainable agriculture, and reconstruction projects in the wake of the 2004 tsunami.
The history of the CRC goes back to 1847 when threee missionaries from the Rhenish Mission began to work in Hong Kong. The CRC aims at spreading the gospel, but is also active in a number of social projects, such as the UEM co-financed project for migrant workers. It has also sent missionaries to other Asian countries like Cambodia and the Philippines.
The Batak Christian Community Church was originally started by the former Batak people who had moved to Jakarta from the Batak land in North Sumatra at the beginning of the 20th century. They were not satisfied with the use of Malay and Dutch languages in church services, so they organized themselves to become a community worshipping, singing and praying in their original Batak language. The church was officially founded in 1927 under the name Batak Christian Community and became the Batak Christian Community Church in 1975. The GPKB's headquarters are in Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia), where the majority of people are Muslims. It is a strategic place from where a wide network can be built to develop and empower the GPKB's ministry in church and society. The doctrinal basis of the GPKB is derived from Martin Luther's Small Catechism, and its forms of worship and other practices are in keeping with the Lutheran legacy.
Today the church has branched out to North Sumatra and has six districts of ministry. Since the general synod in 2002 it has a new spirit and vision of its mission, which is to participate more actively in the building of the kingdom of God. A new constitution and a new structure have been adopted, in order to improve the programmes of the church in the future. Three departments are responsible for Marturia, Koinonia and Diakonia. In this way the GPKB seeks to express the three aspects of the fundamental calling of the church and build an active and intensive ministry. It will continue to improve its mission to the Maya-maya people who have transmigrated to the Kubu area and who are keen to hear the gospel message. It also wants to reach the Batak Christian people who live in close-knit communities in the cities and do not have the opportunity to gather for worship in the church because they are poor and feel ashamed to join the others. Many of them also are facing difficulties in relation to Islam. In present-day Indonesia people are generally struggling with social problems due to the multidimensional crisis affecting the country: economic, political, legal, moral and cultural. In this context the GPKB faces the problems of human rights, environment, gender, drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, poverty, and interreligious conflict. Dealing with these problems is the challenge to the church at the present time. The GPKB maintains a particular relationship with the Lutheran Church of Australia.
The Protestant Christian Pakpak Dairi Church was officially established on 22nd of March 1996. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation and of The Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI). This relatively young church has about 37.000 members, of which 15.000 are kids and yound adults. GKPPD consists of 141 local churches; 33 pastors, of which 7 are women, care for the members. The local member churches are mainly located in the provinces North-Sumatra and Aceh Darussalam.
Die Indonesian Christian Church (HKI) was established in 1927, asserting its autonomy and self-government from the Rhineland Mission (Germany). At issue were the ordination of Batak ministers, the indigenous role in regional and local church affairs, and the Batak role in national identity. Soon after the proclamation in 1946 of Indonesian independence, the church changed its original name "Huria Kristen Batak" to "Huria Kristen Indonesia". The HKI adopted a synodal form of policy, headed by an ephorus. Since 1968 it has used the Nommensen University for the formation of pastors, teachers and others. The congregations are located mostly in Sumatra, where the language is Batak Toba, and Java. The majority of members live in rural areas. They are small farmers who raise cattle, water buffalo, pigs and chickens. Others live in towns and cities, including Jakarta, working as civil servants, policemen, soldiers, retailers, etc.
Since 1970, the church has had connections with the Lutheran Church in America. With expatriate assistance, it conducts a programme in theological education by extension in which the Gereja Kristen Protestan Simalungun, the Gereja Kristen Protestan Indonesia and other churches participate. In 1982 a theological education programme for teacher-preachers was started. Some newly trained church members will be sent as evangelists to the frontiers. A third programme is the family discussion group, undertaken in rural and urban places. The HKI is also involved in development projects. In 1976, an agricultural smallholders' rice-growing project was initiated with outside aid. As the invested money is repaid, the revolving fund will help launch new projects for more people.
The Christian Church of Northern Central Java (GKJTU) came into life with the evangelistic work of Durch and German missionaries at the end of the 19th century. It has about 20,000 members in 54 congregations.
The East Java Christian Church (GKJW) been a missionary church from the beginning. It grew from a spontaneous movement among the Javanese in the middle of the 19th century. In the 1830s groups of Javanese believers near Surabaya were brought into contact with the gospel by the activities of European lay people; the first baptism occurred in 1843. In the 1850s the Dutch mission (NZG) took over and started what it considered to be a necessarily long process of bringing the church to maturity. This process was concluded by the convening of the first synod in 1931, when the church had 23,000 baptized members, in 45 local parishes. But, as elsewhere in Indonesia, the NZG remained as a "guide towards adulthood" until 1942. So great was its influence that the GKJW considers itself a daughter church of the Netherlands Reformed Church (now Protestant Church in the Netherlands).
The coming of the Japanese brought the end of missionary domination. During and after World War II the church went through hard times. After 1950 a slow but steady growth began, which peaked after the elimination of communism in 1965-1967. From the beginning, the GKJW has been a rural church; many congregations were founded by clearing forests and establishing Christian villages on the reclaimed land. The other churches in East Java are based in the cities. Together they constitute 1.5 million (including Roman Catholic) of the 34 million population of East Java, the overwhelming majority (95.5 percent) being Muslim. In 1995 and 1996 riots occurred several times, resulting in severe damage to Christian lives and property.
The GKJW has a number of hospitals, clinics, a small number of schools for elementary to senior high level and an orphanage. In 1987 the church commenced its first six-year comprehensive church development plan, which consists of programmes for the development of theological activities, community life, Christian service, Christian witness, and stewardship. Pastors are trained at the theological school in Malang. The GKJW is connected with the Duta Wacana Christian University in Yogyakarta.
The church considers December 11, 1931 as its birth date. It uses three languages: Indonesian, Javanese and Madurese. Its organization is presbyterian-synodal. Since 1981 the GKJW has been in relationship with the United Evangelical Mission in Germany. It has partnership relations with the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, the Evangelical Church in Rhineland (Germany) and the Presbyterian Church (USA).
The Christian Protestant Angkola Church was officially established in 1976 when it obtained its autonomy from the Protestant Christian Batak Church (HKBP), under the name HKBPA. It joined in 1988 with the Protestant Angkola Church, and the present name was adopted. The GKPA ministers to the Angkola Batak people in their language. It states its purpose as "strengthening Christianity in the Islamic environment" and tries to create good mutual understanding and tolerance between Christians and Muslims.
The church provides training programmes for youth and children, programmes for training in spirituality, and publishes teaching materials. It runs three junior and two senior secondary schools, one public health centre, and technical training programmes in agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing, etc. It also conducts courses and training for pastors, presbyters, women and Sunday school teachers. The church is committed to promoting programmes such as overcoming violence, gender balance, justice, peace and integrity of creation, and workshops on HIV/AIDS. It is involved in mission work in areas of new settlement and transmigration. New materials in the Angkola language, including the Bible, have been produced and are widely used. The experience of working among the Angkola people - an ethnic group of some 450,000 - has contributed to the growth of the church.
Work among the Karo Batak people was started in 1890 by the Dutch Missionary Society, financially assisted by the Dutch Plantation Company. The Karo people used to accuse the missionaries of being agents of colonialism. The church grew slowly, at its 50th anniversary it had 5,000 members. The Karo Batak Protestant Church (GBKP) was founded at the first synod in 1941. At that time there were two ordained Karonese pastors. During the Japanese occupation the missionaries were detained in camps and the Karo Christians had to take responsibility, without proper preparation financially, institutionally, theologically or in terms of human resources. Two periods of rapid growth occurred in 1965 and 1966 with mass baptisms at the time of the repression of the communist rebellion, and in the 1980s through the family approach model of evangelization.
The increase in numbers created a problem for the church because there were not enough pastors to teach the new members in the faith. To meet the need, elders and deacons were trained to conduct worship services and take over other tasks of the pastors. A lay training centre was set up and later a school for evangelists. Elders and deacons continue to fulfill important functions in the church, including pastoral responsibilities.
The GBKP is organized according to the presbyterian-synodal model. The general assembly is the highest governing body. In 2005 the general assembly voted a new church order. There are three departments: Diakonia (orphanages, care for the mentally handicapped, homes for the elderly, credit unions etc); Marturia (evangelization, Christian schools, theological education, pastoral counselling, etc.); Koinonia (Sunday schools, youth, women, lay training, retreat centre, etc.). For the next five years the programmes will put emphasis on theological and spiritual development, human resources development, and financial support. Some of the current challenges which the church faces are syncretism, formalism ("Sunday Christians"), materialism, drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, violence in the families, poverty and lack of skills in the rural areas, the belief that the church should not be involved in socio-economic and political issues, etc. Therefore the GBKP is giving high priority to programmes of education and training, lay participation, health, social and economic questions, a theology of giving (the tithe has been introduced), and continuous strengthening of all sectors and institutions of the church.
The Christian Protestant Church in Indonesia (GKPI) grew out of a spiritual, congregational reform movement in the Batak Protestant Christian Church (HKBP) which led to a split due to some disagreement in the leadership. The GKPI was established in 1964. The first years were difficult because the church had no relationships locally and internationally. Its membership increased and the isolation was overcome when the church joined the Lutheran World Federation and the United Evangelical Mission in 1977.
The GKPI is a national church which has spread around Sumatra, to Java and Kalimantan, but its members are mainly of the Toba-Batak ethnic groups and its geographical concentration is in North Sumatra. More than 75 percent of the members are small farmers living in the villages and rural areas. Others are in government service or in the military, or are shop-holders, beçak drivers, etc. Most of them belong to the low income group with few skills to improve their living conditions.
The GKPI has three departments, for witness, general organization and finance, under which several sections deal with programmes like evangelization, training and education, Sunday school, research, youth, women, men etc. There are also some foundations, for the blind, for general education, the Mamre Orphanage and the Agapè Foundation. The work depends on the financial support of the congregations, which are also responsible for the salary of their parish pastor. Some of the programmes are also supported by the United Evangelical Mission.
The GKPI is in favour of the type of partnership promoted by UE, because it helps the churches to know each other's conditions, needs and challenges, and to learn from each other how to implement the mission of Jesus Christ in the world, and it enables the churches to carry out their ministry. Among the priorities of the church are the training of pastors, elders and church leaders to develop their knowledge, skills and leadership abilities, and to deepen their spiritual life and dedication. The GKPI has encouraged a number of pastors to do post-gradu-ate studies. The church is also planning a cooperative budgeting system for its activities, aiming at local fundraising and financial self-reliance.
The Nias Christian Protestant Church (BNKP) grew out of the work of the Rhenish Mission (Germany) on the island of Nias, which began in 1865. Missionaries from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Netherlands began working in the southern part of the island in 1889. The first synod of the BNKP was held in 1936, when the autonomy of the church was acknowledged by the Mission Society and the Dutch colonial government. The Protestant Christian Church which had grown out of the Dutch Lutheran mission merged with the BNKP in 1960.
The church accepts the word of God as written in the scriptures, the Apostolic Creed, and the Small Catechism of Luther. Enriched by its Lutheran heritage, the BNKP is living out its vision and mission along with other churches, nationally and globally. It has identified five major areas of concern: 1) religious pluralism and dialogue with people of other faiths; 2) pursuing justice, serving the needy, opposing gender discrimination; 3) care for creation; 4) science and rapid technological change; 5) gospel and culture. The programmes of the church are grouped under Witness (sending out missionaries and speaking prophetically in the society); Community (worship in Indonesian and Nias languages, weekly Bible studies in the congregations, relations with other churches and ecumenical bodies); Service (orphanages, care for the needy, schools, and rehabilitation and reconstruction).
The majority of the population of Nias belongs to the BNKP. The church has put much emphasis on the formation of lay leadership, because it is scattered over a vast region and there is a shortage of ordained ministers. The training of more pastors is a high priority. The BNKP has its own theological seminary.
Nias is situated west of Sumatra. About 43 percent of the population are considered very poor. It is an isolated area, with a high level of illiteracy. The road conditions are bad, and there is only one hospital on the island. Communications with Sumatra and the rest of Indonesia are difficult. The island of Nias was hit by the tsunami of 26 December 2004, and again by the earthquake of 28 March 2005 which was even more devastating. Many people were killed, many others lost their houses and belongings. Much of the infrastructure of the island was destroyed, including many church buildings. Following these disasters, the main priority of the BNKP has been to reorganize the life of the church and the local congregations, to assist people with trauma counselling and other assistance, and to reconstruct churches and other buildings.
The Nias Christian Protestant Church is in relationship with several regional churches in Germany, and with the Protestant Church in the Netherlands.
The Protestant Christian Church in Mentawai (GKPM) has its roots in the work of the Rhenisch Mission; it became independent in 1978. 23 pastors care for 26,000 members.
The Simalungun Protestant Christian Church, autonomous since 1963, is concentrated mainly in North Sumatra, among the approximately 300,000 people who speak Simalungun, a Batak dialect, and has congregations in Java where the church has followed its people. The GKPS traces its beginnings back to the work of the Rhenish Mission in the Batak area in the 19th century. About 70 percent of its members are farmers; others are engaged in various occupations in urban centres in North Sumatra and in the nation's capital Jakarta. A translation of the entire Bible in the Simalungun language by Simalungun scholars, begun in 1957, was completed in 1969. Among the Simalungun people are some 5,000 Roman Catholics and several thousand Muslims. The church continues to work among the latter.
The church organization combines congregational and synodal features. An ephorus and a general secretary, elected once in five years, head the church. Church headquarters in Pematang Siantar are conveniently near the HKBP Theological Seminary where the church's pastors are trained; other students attend Abdi Sabda Theological Seminary in Medan, Jakarta Theological Seminary, and the seminary in Jogyakarta. The church maintains many elementary and secondary schools. It has a development service, contributing drinking water supplies to the village people, motivating rice growing, poultry raising, cattle breeding. Its medical clinic, "Bethesda" in Saribu Dolok and in Pematangraya, helps to relate health services to the community needs.
The GKPS has close ties with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church in Australia and some districts of UEM members in Germany.
The Batak Protestant Christian Church (HKBP) is the fruit of the work of the Rhineland Mission (Germany) which began to work in the Batak land of North Sumatra in 1861. The Batak people had strongly rejected earlier attempts to evangelize them. The history of the mission and the church cannot be separated from the person of I.L. Nommensen, "the apostle to the Batak people", who arrived in 1864 and stayed until his death in 1918 as ephorus of the church. One of his great insights was the use of indigenous workers. The first school for Batak evangelists was established in 1868. Already in 1881 a church order was introduced, which enabled the church to grow strong in organization and size. The HKBP became autonomous in 1930. From 1940 onwards it was entirely self-governing, self-sup-porting and self-propagating. Today it is the largest Protestant church in Indonesia, with congregations in many parts of the archipelago and also in other countries.
The HKBP understands itself as a church of Christ, established by the work of the Holy Spirit, an organism that "lives from age to age and from generation to generation across the borders of continents, nations, races and languages". It is part of the universal church, holding to one baptism. It has its own confession, adopted in 1951, which is based on the holy scriptures, on the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian creeds, the Reformation and more recent confessions like the Barmen Theological Declaration of 1934. According to the latest revision of its constitution, the HKBP has a vision of developing itself to be an inclusive, dialogical and transparent church that, together with other Christians and people of other faiths, strives for the improvement of the quality of life of the people in the light of the love of Jesus Christ, for the glory of God. The mission of the church is carried out through its three departments: Diakonia, Marturia and Koinonia. The main concerns are bringing the gospel to non-Christian people (e.g. among Javanese and Tamil in Medan, tribes in Riau, in areas of transmigration), providing social services (e.g. care for orphans, for the blind, for drop-outs), gender justice, schools (nursery, elementary, high schools and technical, 145 in all), hospitals and health centres, HIV/AIDS, environment, violence and poverty.
An important institution of the HKBP is the Nommensen University which was opened in 1954, in response to the felt need for higher education in the new nation of Indonesia. It has, among many other colleges, a faculty of theology. The church also runs a theological seminary, a teacher-preacher school, a Bible women's school and a deaconess training school.
It is the conviction of the HKBP that it is God's plan to save the Batak people in order to be a blessing for Indonesia in particular, and for the world in general.
The Evangelical Christian Church in Tanah Papua is the fruit of the work of the Gossner Mission (Germany) which started in 1855, and of the mission of the Netherlands Reformed Church which began in 1870. The church became autonomous in 1956. Its motto is from Ephesians 5:8 "for once you were darkness but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light."
The Evangelical Christian Church in Tanah Papua seeks to grow and to develop its theological vision in the spirit of Eph. 5:8. Ideally this is the vision of the kingdom of God. Operationally, the theological vision of the church is to demonstrate the signs of the kingdom, e.g. "Shalom", in its mission activities. It has been able to develop into a mature church which has the capacity to support its actions of service by means of its own financial and human resources. The four main programmes are 1) public services in the area of human rights, legal support, politics and human security; 2) theology, evangelism and mission; 3) education, from elementary to tertiary levels; and 4) awareness building for financial self-reliance. The church has its own theological seminary for the training of pastors.
The GKITP is organized according to the presbyterian-synodal model. The synod is the highest governing body. It elects an executive board, composed of eight regional and five executive members, which is responsible for the day-to-day running of the church. In the areas of human rights and politics in Papua the GKITP is playing a very significant role. Through the campaign "Papua as Land of Peace" the church is involved in the resolution of conflicts in the community, in cooperation with the Roman Catholic Church, other Protestant churches and other faith groups in the region.
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), the largest and most widespread Protestant church in the country, came into being in 1948. It unites in one church the United Evangelical Church in the Philippines (a 1929 union of Presbyterian, Congregational and United Brethren churches with the small United Church of Manila), the Philippine Methodist Church and the Evangelical Church in the Philippines (a 1944 union of various Evangelical churches). The UCCP considers itself as an integral part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, called to be a witness to the gospel of the kingdom of God as proclaimed in the life and ministry of our Lord as revealed in the scriptures, and empowered to participate in the ushering in of God's shalom throughout the whole creation.
The vision of the UCCP is to be a responsible, empowered, self-reliant and caring community of Christian believers committed to the pursuit of a transformed church and society, and an abundant and meaningful life for all. In light of this vision, the UCCP commits itself to the mission of establishing and uniting the community of faith for the proclamation of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, towards the transformation of both church and society. The UCCP sees itself as journeying towards its next jubilee year carrying on a ministry and witness of proclaiming, articulating and activating the gospel of hope and promise to both its church members and the larger community, as expressed in the following mission statement:
"We, the members of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, affirming our common faith heritage and mandate, centred and founded in the living Christ, cognizant of our diverse historical traditions and experiences, but sensitive to the problems and challenges of the contemporary society where we are located, do commit ourselves to the pursuit of the following life purpose: to be a community living out Jesus' example as a servant-prophet to the people; to transform our life and work towards becoming a more effective witness to the church's vision; to be a faithful proclaimer of the gospel of shalom to and with the people; to work in solidarity with all other sectors and groups in society, and with other faith communities who share the UCCP's vision of society; to continue to work for unity and reconciliation among our own people. We intend to live out these life purposes drawing strength from the resources of our faith heritage, from the edifying traditions and lessons of our history as a church, from the stories of faith, hope and struggle of the Filipino people including the martyrs, and from the empowerment that can only come from the Holy Spirit."
Within the first five to ten years of its jubilee, the UCCP will translate its mission in three areas: strengthening the faith community; enriching the life-work of communities where local churches are located; deepening the impact of its collective response to societal issues and concerns.
Methodist mission began in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) in 1814, with the arrival of a team of missionaries sent by the British Conference. At the 150th anniversary, in 1964, the Conference of the Methodist Church, Ceylon received its full autonomy. From the very beginning education has had an important role and schools were established in many places. Of the 177 Methodist schools in 1960, 175 were taken over by the government that year. The church retained one school for boys and one for girls. It has gone into pre-school education, setting up 37 preschools, 15 day-care centres, 22 childrens' homes and 25 nutrition feeding centres, serving the poorest of the poor children. The church has a vigorous social service programme with six homes for the elderly, a ministry for the deaf, a hospital and a few clinics, several vocational training projects, two farms and three refugee camps. The Wesley Press, the first printing press in Sri Lanka, is involved in publishing and runs a bookshop.
The evangelists of the Methodist Church are working in frontier areas. New work has begun in some thirty villages and the church is seeking to establish 500 new communities. It is also experimenting with new forms of liturgy, introducing creative, indigenous models of worship. The youth department overlooks the work of the Wesley Guilds, Senior and Junior, the Youth Fellowships and Bible/Sunday schools. The membership of the church is larger than the present figure suggests, because statistics from some areas in the north are not available due to the civil conflict. The ministers are trained at the Theological College of Lanka, an ecumenical institution. The Methodist Church runs two evangelist training colleges for the formation of its evangelists.
With about 45 percent Tamil and 55 percent Sinhala members, the Methodist Church is in a unique position to witness to the unity in Christ. Peace and reconciliation projects include caring for victims of violence, peace education and conflict resolution workshops, exchange programmes for young people belonging to different ethnic communities, statements, peace walks, and mediation in times of ethnic conflict. The interfaith seminars on the peace process, organized by the Methodist Church, have brought together Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities. The church has taken an active part in rehabilitation after the tsunami disaster of December 2004.