Protestant Church in South-East Sulawesi
(Gereja Protestan di Sulawesi Tenggara, GEPSULTRA)
The Bible reached South-East Sulawesi in 1916, during the time of Dutch colonialism, through the efforts of the Mission of the Netherlands Reformed Church. The missionary activities began with the opening of a school for teacher training in a place about 150 kms from Kendari, the capital town of the Province of South-East Sulawesi. The first students from among the indigenous people were also the first to be baptized. The teachers founded elementary schools in the villages, until 1930. Besides teaching they served the people, and formed groups of Christian families, who were to become the nucleus of the church. In 1957 the mission handed over the responsibility to the local pastors and the date was marked as the founding date of the Protestant Church in South East Sulawesi. The GEPSULTRA is not an ethnic church. The name refers to the region where the church was born and exists. The language used in the church is not the local language but mainly Indonesian.
The church understands its calling in terms of uniting, witnessing and serving. It has four priority programmes: training in theology and faith; ecumenism, witness and church development; financial and diaconal self-reliance; training and building of groups such as the laity, women, youth, Sunday school and adults. The clergy of the GEPSULTRA are trained at the theological seminary of the church which is a member of the Association of Theological Seminaries in Indonesia.