Dealing with difference


The churches of GITJ (Gereja Injili di Tanah Jawa – Evangelical Church in the Land of Java), Indonesia, had been in conflict for some 22 years. This was largely because one group (with 24 member churches) was recognized by the Indonesian government while the other (with about 50 member churches) was not.

All during the time of disagreement and conflict, many in the churches were longing to reconcile.

The churches invited Pastor Lawrence Yoder (USA) to come to work on the issue, and through his personal approach he was able to motivate both sides to agree to talk with each other. They did so in a pastors’ retreat and at a general church council meeting.

Then in 1999 each group had opportunity to send a representative – Pudjo Kartiko and Hendro Soeradi – to the Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA. The two returned from SPI and began to work hard with both groups toward reconciliation.

With the help of the peace center at Duta Wacana Christian University in Yogyakarta, churches in both groups agreed to come to a meeting to deal with their differences and the conflict that resulted.

At that meeting, the two groups decided to hold an extraordinary conference meeting in order to become one body. The conference was to be the reconciliation of the GITJ synod board.

So in the extraordinary conference meeting in 2000, we were able to choose a daily board for one GITJ conference. In the next two years it worked toward a unified Synod Board. Now all our churches are in one body, and we are working hard to maintain the spirit of unification.

—from Gereja Injili di Tanah Jawa (GITJ – Evangelical Church in the Land of Java).
This article is reprinted from Courier / Correo / Courrier 2004, volume 19, issue 3

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