Christian Church of Central Sulawesi
(Gereja Kristen Sulawesi Tengah, GKST)
The Netherlands Missionary Society came to Celebes (now Sulawesi) in 1892. The church became autonomous in 1947. Most of its members live in the central part of Sulawesi, as its name suggests, but the church has also spread to South Sulawesi provinces. In recent years the GKST has been affected by violent confrontations between Muslims and Christians, as in other parts of Indonesia. Many Christians fled from the villages to the main town, Poso, for security reasons. There were still some 16,000 displaced persons in the region of the central synod of the GKST in 2003. The general secretary of the church, who was actively involved in efforts to resolve the conflicts, was accused of transporting arms and put in prison. While in prison he was elected president of the church. Since his release he has taken up office.
The conflicts in the area have affected the church and created some tensions. Reconciliation, internally and especially with the Muslim population, is therefore a high priority of the GKST. The church is also concerned with the enforcement of the law, in particular with regard to human rights. Other important concerns are the education and formation of the members of the church, and the improvement of their living conditions. Central Sulawesi is an isolated area and difficult of access, and the economy has suffered from the civil strife.