Christian Evangelical Church of Sangihe Talaud
(Gereja Masehi Injili Sangihe Talaud, GMIST)
Carpenter missionaries from Germany, sent by the Dutch Missionary Society, started working in the Sangihe islands north of today's Sulawesi in 1857. They worked as craftsmen while teaching the gospel to the people. Their mission was difficult because of isolation and hardships. After their death, the mission society established a committee to continue the work they had initiated. Later on, the responsibility for all the missionary work was handed over to the synod of the Christian Evangelical Church of Sangihe Talaud (GMIST), which came into being in 1947. The GMIST is organized according to the presbyterian-synodal system. Its doctrinal bases are the Apostle's Creed and the Creed of Nicea-Constantino-ple. The area of Sangihe Talaud is composed of 124 islands. In the beginning the GMIST was active in 42 of these. In 2001 the synod of the GMIST decided to form a new church, the Christian Evangelical Church in Talaud (GERMITA), to serve the congregations spread throughout the Talaud archipelago.
Until 1960 the pastors of the GMIST were trained at the theological school in Makasar (South Sulawesi), and some were sent to the higher theological school in Tomohon (Minahasa, North Sulawesi). The church gradually became aware of the importance of having more and well prepared full-time pastors. Today most of the candidates study at the theological faculty in Tomohon. Since 1990, some pastors are selected by the synod in order to pursue advanced theological studies, with the help of ATESEA (Association of Theological Education in South East Asia). Besides the development of human resources, other priorities of the church are: strengthening of ecumenical relationships and cooperation with other churches, foundations and institutions in the region; developing a contextual theology that can assist the members of the church in their daily life; enhancing the work with teenagers and youth ministries; launching a gender programme; promoting community health services, especially for the people in the remote areas; inter-faith dialogue as a response to the regional and national religious conflicts. The GMIST runs 70 kindergartens, 136 primary schools, four secondary schools and one high school.