With 15 million members of various ethnicities and backgrounds living alongside the world’s largest national Muslim population, Indonesian churches hope to make a dynamic contribution to the upcoming assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Busan, Republic of Korea.
Church members name diversity as a basis of wisdom which, they say, has a great potential to strengthen justice and peace, particularly amidst growing conflicts in the world.
Such reflections were shared at the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (CCI) meeting from 20 to 21 August in Jakarta, Indonesia, held with support from the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) and the Protestant Church in Indonesia (GPI).
The CCI meeting triggered discussions on the WCC assembly theme, “God of life, lead us to justice and peace”. The 10th Assembly of the WCC will take place in Busan from 30 October to 8 November.
In the meeting, Rev. Dr Henriette Hutabarat Lebang, general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia, shared her hopes for the WCC assembly. Lebang, from the Toraja Church in South Sulawesi, will be a speaker at the WCC pre-assembly for women and men.
“I believe diversity is not only relevant for the Christians, but also for other believers. This means more people would like to see how diversity can help create actions that can be implemented beyond the church’s walls,” she said
“Pluralistic societies are Asia’s identity and nowadays a reality, and this should be our specific contribution to the Busan assembly,” Lebang added.
At the pre-assembly event, WCC president for Asia, the Rev. Dr Soritua Nababan, said, “The gravity of Christianity has shifted to the South and the East.”
This means, he said, a strong calling for the Indonesian churches to participate actively, both regionally and globally, in shaping the ecumenical agenda.
With 88 churches across the country representing members with various backgrounds, Nabadan continued, Indonesia has a lot to contribute to the WCC assembly. “Such experiences will supply great wisdom to strengthen global justice and peace,” he said.
Rev. Dr Margaretha Hendriks-Ririmasse, vice-moderator of the WCC Central Committee, also shared her belief that dialogue infused with the spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood is a vital tool in building peace, and this spirit exists across religions.
Ririmasse, from the Protestant Church of Maluku, said that her belief in dialogue is based on her experiences of working with women facilitating the reconciliation process at the grassroots level during sectarian conflict in Maluku. She affirmed the significance of the WCC assembly theme, expressing her hope to see action-oriented reflections spelled out in Busan.
The last session of the meeting included ideas from Indonesian church representatives for the Asia plenary at the WCC assembly. In these discussions, Rev. Dr A.A. Yewanggoe, chairperson of the CCI, highlighted the relevance of the assembly theme in the Indonesian context.
“The impacts of the free market policy and globalization lead us into crises in which the poor suffer more, and therefore churches need to address such injustice,” said Yewanggoe.
He went on to say that peace is not only the absence of war but also requires a strong, brave will accompanying the aim of initiating concrete actions against human rights violations.
Yewanggoe reminded the representatives of Indonesian churches that “Christian faith in the living God is not only something to explain to the world, but to continuously be found and witnessed in the world, in all interactions and reflections around justice and peace.”
Website of the WCC 10th Assembly