From the Worldwide Faith News archives

New Constitution for Indonesia's Lutheran Church

Date 13 Feb 2001 08:29:03

Synod Apologizes for Suffering Caused by Church Rift

PEARAJA TARUTUNG, Indonesia/GENEVA, 13 February 2001 (LWI) - Indonesia's
largest Lutheran church is preparing a new constitution that will enable it
to be more inclusive and guarantee involvement in the country's
democratization process.

The Protestant Christian Batak Church (HKBP) says the new constitution, to
be presented to the 2002 general synod, [referred to as the Great Synod
Assembly] will guarantee the involvement of the 3-million member church in
human rights work in church and society. The constitution will elucidate the
church's mission and ministry in a pluralistic society.

Since the 1998 joint synod, which initiated a period of reconciliation
following a seven-year leadership crisis in the church, the HKPB has been
using two constitutions.

Healing and reconciliation were a major focus of the last general synod
whose theme emphasized the church as a role model. The November 2000 synod
acknowledged that the crisis in the church had resulted in frustration,
hurt, suffering of many church members and even loss of lives. "Therefore
the Great Synod apologizes and offers deep sympathy to all HKBP members,
church partners and the society."

In a statement signed by Bishop J. R. Hutauruk and general secretary, Rev.
W. T. P. Simarmata, the church noted that "a few of the local churches still
need time to continue to work on and solve their own problems." Most of the
congregations that were involved in the conflict have been reunited. Others
have had their differences resolved by allowing each community to build a
new parish organization under the HKBP.

At the November synod, the 1,300 participants representing the more than
2,500 congregations deliberated how the Lutheran church can serve and build
a pluralistic society like Indonesia's for democratization, justice and
peace in an era of globalization.

On the current political crisis, the HKBP regretted the human tragedy and
violence, adding that widespread conflicts have demeaned human rights in
several regions of Indonesia including Aceh, Ambon/Maluku and Papua. The
synod urged the government to promote the rule of law in order to ensure an
end to the violence and enhance justice and human rights for all.

Conflicts between elitist political groups in Indonesia have created
political instability, according to the Protestant Christian Batak Church.
The synod called for continued prayers for the country.

Christians make up 12 percent of the 210 million people in predominantly
Muslim Indonesia. Religious tensions between Christians and Muslims have
been reported in the Maluku islands. A series of church bombings last
Christmas also increased suspicion between the two groups.

(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran
tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund (Sweden), the LWF now has 131 member
churches in 72 countries representing over 60.2 million of the nearly 64
million Lutherans worldwide. The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches
in areas of common interest such as ecumenical relations, theology,
humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication, and the various
aspects of mission and development work. Its secretariat is located in
Geneva, Switzerland.)

[Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the information service of the Lutheran
World Federation (LWF). Unless specifically noted, material presented does
not represent positions or opinions of the LWF or of its various units.
Where the dateline of an article contains the notation (LWI), the material
may be freely reproduced with acknowledgement.]

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