Posted: October 12, 2022
9 September 1939 – 30 September 2022
Mesach Krisetya, Mennonite World Conference (MWC) president 1997-2003, died 30 September 2022. He was born in Jepara, Indonesia, 9 September 1939. A theologian, professor and academic administrator, author and counsellor, Mesach Krisetya was beloved as a mentor and teacher.
Upon his conversion to Christianity, he created a new name for himself to mean “fire-proof man, loyal to Christ”: “Mesach”, from one of the Hebrew men who were not consumed by fire in Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace, and “Krisetya” meaning follower of Christ.
During his term as MWC president, MWC entered into ecumenical dialogue on the global level with both the Catholic Church (Vatican) and the Lutheran World Federation. In 2002, with the invitation of Pope John Paul II, he participated on behalf of MWC in the Day of Prayer for Peace in the World.
As president of MWC, Mesach Krisetya emphasized church-to-church relationships, insisting “MWC needs to belong to the people” not just to the leaders directly involved.
His 1993 address “From Dependence to Interdependence in the Global Church,” delivered to the General Council in Zimbabwe influenced the development of MWC’s identity as a koinonia. He said that he envisioned MWC as a place “where Mennonites form a working relationship in respond [sic] to the need of ‘interconnectedness’ between Mennonites and the world…; glue for church-to-church or conference-to-conference relations….; a centre where every members of the body feel accepted and needed [sic], so they form a new kind of relationship of interdependency in a global sense.”
Mesach Krisetya studied theology in Semarang. He received a master of divinity (MDiv) from Goshen Biblical Seminary (USA); a master of theology (MTh) from the Christian Counselling Centre in Vellore, India; clinical pastoral education from Prairie View, Newton, Kansas, USA and United Theological College, Bangalore, India; and a doctor of ministry (DMin) Claremont School of Theology (USA).
Mesach Krisetya taught and served in administration at several universities in Indonesia, pioneering in the field of pastoral counselling. He wrote books on pastoral counselling and published articles on inter-religious relations in Indonesia, pastoral care, Christian mission and the mission of the church.
In Indonesia, he served MWC national member church GKMI* as chair from 1996-1999. He was involved in the creation of PIPKA, the GKMI mission board. He was also a supporter of the youth revival movement that developed into today’s JKI.*
During Assembly 17 in Indonesia, he was not able to participate in the gathering for health reasons, but welcomed small groups into his home for the encouraging conversations he was known for.
“This situation has taken from us, for a while, the possibility to continue sharing with Mesach,” says César García, MWC general secretary. “The global ministry he developed leaves us with a deep sense of gratitude for the gifts God gave us through his life. The Officers, the Executive Committee, and all the Mennonite World Conference staff join the GKMI family in mourning his death.”
He is mourned by his wife Miriam, two adult children and their spouses, and five grandchildren. Funeral proceedings took place 30 September – 2 October 2022.
Responses from other MWC leaders:
Mesach Krisetya was a humble leader. As a person who was born in the gospel and the church, he was very concerned about the church and people. We’re very proud of him for his achievements as professor of pastoral counselling. Beside of all of his achievements, he was still a faithful member of his local GKMI congregation in Salatiga. He and his wife always arrived at the church service early and greeted all the members with full hospitality.
—Agus Mayanto, GKMI* president and MWC regional representative for Southeast Asia
The relationship with Mesach was one of the most precious gifts I received during my 22 years with MWC. He became a big brother to me after the death of my biological brother, and was a source of inspiration to “keep the faith” to the end as I watched him incarnate the meaning of his name.
—Larry Miller, former MWC general secretary (1990-2011)
Each MWC president builds on the legacy of those who have served before. Mesach was a giant: a tall man who lived out Anabaptist values of humility and grace. His vision for MWC is what we are still building on. We remember him with gratitude and love.
—Henk Stenvers, MWC president (2022-2028)
Mesach Krisetya was a very humble man, an unassuming man of God, serious in his commitment to the global church. At the same time underneath his deep spiritual veil, Mesach had some sense of humour. The Anabaptist Mennonite family has lost a loving, gracious, fatherly, humble, and God-fearing leader.
—Danisa Ndlovu, MWC regional representative for Southern Africa and MWC president (2009-2015)
*Today, there are three Anabaptist-Mennonite groups in Indonesia:
- Gereja Injili di Tanah Jawa (GITJ –Evangelical Church in the Land of Java)
- Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia (GKMI –Muria Christian Church of Indonesia)
- Jemaat Kristen Indonesia (JKI –Indonesian Christian Congregation)