Global Missions in the Indiana-Kentucky Synod:
the Huria Kristen Batak Protestan Church
on the island of Sumatra
We are walking together with our fellow Lutherans on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia!
The Indiana-Kentucky Synod has begun to develop a relationship with the Huria Kristen Batak Protestan – HKBP (pronounced ha-ka-bay-pay). HKBP is the governing church body in Indonesia that is part of the Lutheran World Federation. It currently has about 4,500,000 members. The presiding bishop is the Ephorus, or ‘overseer.’
Nearly 210 million people live in Indonesia. Bahasa Indonesia is the official language while English, Dutch, and local languages (primarily Javanese) are spoken as well.
Islam (87%) is the primary religion, with smaller proportions of Protestant Christianity (6%), Roman Catholicism (3%), Hinduism (2%), and Buddhism (1%).
The HKBP people in the Northern Sumatra mostly live in rural, agrarian conditions, but there are a variety of social and economic milieus represented. About 30% are small farmers living in rural villages. Another 30% work for wages on the surrounding plantations producing tea, rubber, palm oil, and cocoa beans.
Facilities and ministries:
Rostered personnel of the HKBP include the ordained pastors plus lay leaders who serve as Preacher-Teachers, Deaconesses, and Biblewomen. Both the Preacher-Teachers and the Biblewomen may lead worship and perform most other pastoral duties except administering the sacraments and performing marriages.
The HKBP operates a School for the Preacher-Teachers close to Taruntung. The HKBP Deaconess School is located in Balige adjacent to the HKBP Hospital.
The HKBP has a Youth Service Organization, the Pelaksana Pelayan Naposobulung, which is roughly equivalent to our Lutheran Student Movement. The church operates a number of parochial schools throughout their various districts. These schools have once again become important after the economic collapse in Indonesia during the late 1990’s, which diminished the budgets for state operated schools.
Elim Orphanage is another agency operated by the HKBP. While the closely intertwined family relationships of the Batak people tend to reduce the occurrence of orphans, the church provides this safety net. This is an important ministry in a country that lacks an effective foster care system run by the state. Elim is now receiving orphans from the war in Aceh.
Two Hospitals are operated by the HKBP, one 150-bed facility in Balige and another on Samosir Island in Lake Toba, the heart of Batak culture. The Balige facility is a teaching hospital for nurses.
The HKBP Theological Seminary, located in Pematang Siantar, serves most of the Lutheran and other Protestant churches in North Sumatra. A Theological Education by Extension program based in Pematang Siantar provides theological education for congregational leaders.
The HKBP Nommensen University, is the largest Lutheran university in the world. In the academic year 2001-2002, it had an enrollment of 7550 students. It has schools of education, agriculture, economics, engineering, business administration, languages and the arts.
3 significant challenges facing by the HKBP in the 21st century:
1. How to do mission and ministry faithfully and peacefully in a radically heterogeneous culture?
2. How to faithfully address social and economic disparity among the people of the HKBP and in surrounding society?
3. How to faithfully relate to socio-economic developments (such as globalization, industrialization, asianization, and sophisticated information technology) so that they become blessing for all people?
- A reengagement process began between the I/K Synod and the HKBP in 2001.
- The I-K Synod sent a delegation to the island of Sumatra in 2002.
- A group from Indonesia visited Indiana and Kentucky in August 2003.
- HKBP Ephorus Rev. Dr. Willem Simarmata and others were part of the 2016 IK Synod Assembly.
- Sister Nurhayat Silalahi, Director of the HKBP HIV AIDS Ministry, spent 10 days visiting our synod in 2017.