Indigenizing the church in Lamper Mijen

Renewal 2027 testimony: Anabaptists today

Renewal 2027 is a 10-year series of events organized by Mennonite World Conference’s Faith and Life Commission to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the beginnings of the Anabaptist movement. This series highlights leaders in the movement from history to the present.

See also installment #1: A Jerusalem church in Indonesia.

A series of pastors succeeded Reverend Andreas Parwadi who resigned as long-serving pastor of the GKMI Lamper Mijen Church in 1984 (Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia, an MWC member church). The vibrant church plant in the Semarang area was part of a movement of ethnically Chinese Mennonite Christians from the Muria area sharing the gospel with mainly Javanese Indonesians.  

Javanese pastor Budi Santoso was accepted by the congregation in 1996, ordained as a young pastor of GKMI Lamper Mijen on 24 January 1999, then as pastor 6 December 2000.

The members of the GKMI Lamper Mijen congregation are mostly from Javanese ethnic groups. Many are former traditional Javanese artists.

Presenting Javanese art and culture

Reverend Budi Santoso wanted to present traditional Javanese art and culture, especially Karawitan (traditional Indonesian music) in the church. He began to develop contextual services at GKMI Lamper Mijen.

Starting in 2000, Reverend Budi began to include traditional Javanese art in public worship on Sunday.

Traditional Indonesian theatre Wayang Orang Punakawan teaches Bible stories and Mennonite values. Photos courtesy of GKMI.Every fifth week, the congregational songs are accompanied by gamelan (an ensemble of percussion instruments in the traditional Indonesian style).

Gamelan and punakawan, (traditional Javanese shadow puppet theatre) are also used for special events (church birthdays, Christmas celebrations, Easter celebrations, etc.). These tell special stories from the Bible or stories which represent Christian, especially Mennonite, values.

The presence of the GKMI Lamper Mijen is accepted by the surrounding community. Their vision is “Becoming a Growing, Healthy and Strong Church.”

Sunday’s general assembly is held Sundays at 7:00 a.m. Some 115 people attend Sunday services.

A new building with Javanese architecture was built October 2006 and dedicated 11 April 2007. Currently, GKMI Lamper Mijen is pioneering a new church plant in the Ungaran area, about 18 kilometers from Semarang.

GKMI Lamper Mijen is the 16th church member of the GKMI Synod, which currently has 61 independent churches.

—a Mennonite World Conference news release by Paul Gunawan, GKMI historian. Translated from Bahasa Indonesian by Mark Ryan, editor of Berita GKMI magazine.

See also installment #1: A Jerusalem church in Indonesia.