"Good church music makes the church interesting for young people: they like to come, even after they have finished high school!" this is how Abdi Jaya Barus describes his motivation to develop himself and his church in terms of music.
At the beginning of June, two experts from the UEM member church GBKP* are sitting as guests in the Wuppertal Mission House: Rev. Abdi Jaya Barus is Director of the GBKP Office for the Development of Music and Liturgy. His colleague Rev. Jeremmy Tarigan is a staff member in this office.
The GBKP district of Sinabun maintains a partnership with the EKvW* district of Herford in Germany. Within this partnership, the two musicians visited church congregations in Herford and Lübbecke as well as the EkvW Church Music College in Herford. The Protestant Pop Academy in Witten and the pastoral conference of the Herford church district were also part of the programme. Barus and Tarigan shared about their work and in turn took away new impressions.
Church music in the GBKP is in the tradition of missionaries with a German migration background, hence the strong presence of brass music in their services. Before the church reformed its hymnal a few years ago, there was only one song from the Karo tradition in it. This is not surprising, given that traditional music was banned in the GBKP as magical and infidel until 1960.
But a lot has changed: Music is no longer seen as magical and is no longer opposed to the Christian faith. Today, after the reform, the hymnal includes songs from German church music as well as Indonesian and Asian traditions - and songs from the Karo tradition itself.
Barus says about the motivation to reform the hymnal: "It is important so that people identify with the church! If they go to worship and their tradition is not there, then something is simply missing. If, on the other hand, we involve them musically, take their wishes seriously, then they come forward with their talents. They are present in a completely different way. And that is good for them and for the church." The GBKP continues to develop: rooted in its tradition, in partnership with Herford and open to new ideas.
*GBKP = Gereja Batak Karo Protestan (Protestant Church of the Karo Batak)
*EKvW = Evangelische Kirche von Westfalen (Evangelical Church in Westphalia)
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