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A New Chapter: The Orthodox Church in Sumatra, Indonesia

Luke Bullock CH202 4/25/2013 Word Count: 3496 [not counting footnotes or bibliography]

Church in Sumatra, Indonesia Luke Bullock CH202 4/25/2013 Word Count: 3496 [not counting footnotes or bibliography]

Introduction

The Byzantine Christian tradition has extended to the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. 1 Fr. Chrysostomos Manalu established the first Greek Orthodox parishes in his native

Sumatra in the late 1990’s.

significant growth. As the Orthodox community of Sumatra consists entirely of Indonesians, it marks the spread of the Greek Church to another corner of the world (c.f.

Mk 13:10). 2 Eastern Christendom has spread a little more east. This paper attempts to articulate the key features of the recent history of the

Orthodox Church in Sumatra. What does Orthodox Christianity look like in Sumatra,

Indonesia?

This paper will begin with a general introduction to the history of the Christianity in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and Sumatra. The majority of the paper will focus, first, on the biography of Fr. Chrysostomos Manalu and his family and, second, on the current institutional Orthodox presence. This paper will identify some of the pressing ecclesiastical issues facing the Orthodox community in Sumatra. The research blends together limited secondary literature, contemporary internet postings, oral history, e-mail correspondence, and eye-witness evidence from the author. 3 The lack of critical scholarship on this topic

means that this paper acts as a tentative first attempt to pull together the available data.

In the first decade of the 21 st c, the community has experienced

How does the Orthodox community in Sumatra interact with other Christians?

1 For the purpose of this paper, the following terms are considered interchangeable if not synonymous: Byzantine, Greek, Eastern, and Orthodox. While each characterizes a different aspect of Church History, they each indicate here a close liturgical, dogmatic, and ecclesiastical relationships with the Church of Constantinople. Fr. Chrysostomos prefers the title Gereja Ortodox Indonesia (Orthodox Church of Indonesia). This correlates to a Church that is both pan-orthodox and indigenously Indonesian. 2 Southeast Asia includes Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines. China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan play key roles economically and culturally in Southeast Asia. Their presence and influence may be found in every major Southeast Asian city. In the context of

Christian missions, South Koreans have become a strong presence throughout Southeast Asia.

Nepal, and Sri Lanka are considered South Asia. Their presence may also be found throughout Southeast Asia. The cultural exchange includes a high degree of diversity and possible synchronicity. In Medan, Indonesia there stands a

unique Catholic church built in a style reminiscent of a Hindu temple. Besides the residual colonial influences of

the European powers and China, Australia and to a lesser degree New Zealand emerge as a key hub.

Protestant missions within Asia, Australia and South Korea are two of the primary centers for Christian seminaries and originators of missionaries. Outside of the Asia and Oceana, missionaries have come from Europe and North America since the 19 th c. 3 A number of key methodological limitations must be acknowledged. First, the oral interviews were not sound recorded. The quotations, though, have been acknowledged and accepted by the speakers by written authorization. Second, Presbytera Elisabeth and Fr. Chrysostomos speak limited English. As the author does not speak Bahasa, Batak, or Greek, the conversations have been limited. Third, while much of the information from their correspondence has been collaborated by other Orthodox Christians in Malaysia and Indonesia including during the author’s visit to Medan in October of 2010 – key details of the history have not been confirmed or substantiated secondarily. Because of these methodological limitations, the paper does not enter into critical commentary or

India, Bangladesh,

Thus, for

Background and Context to Christianity in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and Sumatra Indonesia incorporates a huge, multi-cultural reality. The land of Indonesia spreads

out over seventeen thousands of islands six thousand of which are inhabited stretching

a distance wider than the continental United States. 4

world exceeds 238 million people. As the fifteenth largest island of the world, Sumatra

has a population over 50 million. 5 There are 719 spoken languages in Indonesia; Sumatra hosts over 50 living languages. 6 The earliest Christian presence in Sumatra came through Persian and Syrian traders. Sumatra forms the western side of the straights of Malacca, a key trading route

from ancient times. The strongest early evidence of Christian in Sumatra comes from Abu Salih, a 7th c. Persian trader, who observed several Nestorian churches in Fansur near

present day Sibolga. 7

Aceh, the northern point of Sumatra. These sources include the writings of Marco Polo,

Chou Chu’u-fei, and Tome Pires.

finding Christians at Majapahit, east Java, and at Palembang, south Sumatra. The missionary activity, though, remained limited. Most of the Christians in Sumatra today received their faith through Protestant missionaries in the 19 th c. The first waves of Protestant missions Dutch, British, and German focused on the non-Muslim Batak people group in north central Sumatra near Lake Toba. 8 To this day, Christianity in Sumatra centers around this ethnic group, the Batak.

The population ranked fourth in the

Later sources confirm the presence of Persian Christians in Banda

In 1347, Giovanni de Marignolli of Florence reports

rigorous analysis of the historical narrative and religious phenomenon of the topic. Rather, the paper functions as a first attempt at pulling together the historical data available into one portrait for the first time.

4 The distance between Los Angeles and New York is about 2444 air miles. The distance from the Banda Aceh, Sumatra to Jayapura, West Papau is about 3178 air miles. Accessed March 30, 2013, http://www.mapcrow.info/cgi-

bin/cities_distance_airpt2.cgi?city3=12101%2CN&city4=1477%2CL;

http://www.mapcrow.info/Distance_between_Banda_Aceh_ID_and_Jayapura_ID.html

5 These statistics are based on the 2010 census. Accessed April 23, 2013, http://www.citypopulation.de/php/indonesia-admin.php 6 Accessed April 23, 2013, http://www.ethnologue.com/country/ID

7 John C. England, “The Earliest Christian Communities in Southeast and Northeast Asia: outline of evidence available in seven countries before AD 1500,” Missiology 19 no 2 Ap 1991, 207-208. 8 Simon Rae, Karel A. Steenbrink, Jan S. Aritonang, Richard Daulay, Evert-Jan Hoogerwerf, and Uwe Hummel, “The Sharp Contrasts of Sumatra,History of Christianity in Indonesia, p 527-638 (Leiden: Brill, 2008).

Fr. Chrysostomos Manalu, Presbytera Elisabeth, Soteria, Johannes, and Angela

Fr. Chrysostomos Manalu, Presbytera Elisabeth, Soteria, Johannes, and Angela

Met. Nektarios with students of St. Paulus Theological School Trisagion at the grave of Johannes

Met. Nektarios with students of St. Paulus Theological School

Met. Nektarios with students of St. Paulus Theological School Trisagion at the grave of Johannes with

Trisagion at the grave of Johannes with his Eminence Nektarios of Hong Kong

The modern story of Orthodoxy in Indonesia starts with a Muslim Daniel Bambang Dwi Byantoro converting to Christianity and then, as a Protestant, embracing Orthodoxy. 9 In 1983, Archimandrite Sotirios Trambas received him into the Church in Seoul, Korea. At

that time, Daniel studied at a near-by evangelical theological seminary. In 1984, he visited Mt Athos, staying at Simonopetra. He immediately began translating the services into

Bahasa Indonesian.

As Fr. Sotirios Trambas reported in 1989, in a WCC publication:

An Indonesia priest-cum theologian is ready to undertake missionary work in Java as from June

1988. He has already translated the divine liturgy, vespers and matins. In the meantime, three

other Indonesians are studying at the Theological School in Boston, Massachusetts. A church and missionary centre are needed to develop the mission. 10

In 1991, the State Department of Religion legally recognized Orthodoxy, albeit classified as

Protestant. 11

and joined ROCOR. His missionary work continues throughout Indonesia primarily in Java

but also in other major islands such as Sulawesi and West Papua.

mission in Indonesia has no official, legal presence in Sumatra. 12 From its formation in 1996, the Metropolitanate of Hong Kong, under Nikitas (Lulias) and then Nektarios (Tilus) has taken leadership over Southeast Asia. 13 In 2008, the

Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople elevated the Singapore community to a

Metropolitanate, dividing the Metropolitan of Hong Kong.

Singapore and Southeast Asia includes lands from Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia to India, Sri Lanka, Maldives Islands, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan all the way to Pakistan and Afghanistan. 14 In 2012, the Ecumenical Patriarch elevated Archimandrite Konstantine

In the early 2000’s, Archimandrite Daniel left the Ecumenical Patriarchate

As of 2013, the Russian

The new Metropolitanate of

9 The following information regarding Daniel Byantoro is largely taken from his essay, “The One Apostolic Faith in the Context of Indonesian Culture,” in Orthodoxy and Cultures: Inter-Orthodox Consultation on Gospel and Cultures, p 88-98. Ed, Ioan Sauca (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1996).

10 Sotirios Trambas, Sotirios Trambas, “The Orthodox mission in Far East,Your will be done, p 205-209 (Geneva:

WCC Pubns, 1989),208. 11 Thomas Hulbert, “Orthodox mission profile: Archimandrite Daniel Bambang Dwi Byantoro and the Indonesian mission,” Road to Emmaus, 2 no 3 Sum 2001, 26.

12 According to Presbytera Elisabeth Manalu: “[I]t is unknown for us if there is any activity of Russian Church in Sumatera…. Fr. Chrysostomos actively participate [sic] on Christian fellowship here in north Sumatera, and never met anyone who might be as represented of Russian Church. As we know that any church in Indonesia should be registered at Indonesian Minister of Religion.” E-mail correspondence, April 20, 2013. 13 In 1996, the Ecumenical Patriarchate founded a new Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and South East Asia, separating them from the Metropolitanate of New Zealand.

14 In Southeast Asia, the Orthodox presence has come about in three ways. While Russia Orthodox missionaries traveled east to China, Japan, and Alaska during the 18 th through 20 th c, South Asia remained largely untouched by Byzantine Christianity. In the mid-20 th c various Orthodox missionaries made their way to India. Priest-monk Fr. Athanasios (d. 1990) from Greece started a mission in West Bengal in 1981. Fr. Ignatios Sennis repaired and

(Tilus) the protosyngellos of the Metropolis of Hong Kong to Metropolitan of Singapore. 15 However, the Metropolitan of Singapore does not have residency in Singapore [see Map 1,

E] and, as of 2013, still resides in Hong Kong [H].

throughout Indonesia including communities in Jakarta [G] and Surabaya [J] on Java, Sulawesi [K], Bali [L], and throughout Sumatra [A-D]. 16

Greek Orthodox communities exist

The Manalu Family Rev. Fr. Chrysostomos Manalu is the archepiscopal vicar for Indonesia. He focuses his ministry in Medan [A] as the director of St. Paul’s Theological Academy and parish priest. Fr. Chrysostomos was born on the 20 th of June, 1961 to Bona Manalu and Tamaria Aritonang. The paternal grandfather gave him the name Parluhutan, a Christian Batak word for a place of shelter. After his schooling, he left his home village in Northern Sumatra, Tarutung [see Map 2, C], and went to the Jakarta [G], the capital city of Indonesia on the island of Java. He worked at an express agency for a couple of years, before his boss volunteered to send him to the Evangelical Theological School, in Jogyakarta, Central Java. He graduated in 1986 and married his wife when she graduated the next year. Until early 1989, he served a protestant church there in Java. It would be through his theological studies, in particular his reading of early Christianity, that he became convinced that the original Church continued in the present time. His classmate now Fr. Yohanes Bambang C. Wicaksono 17 told him of Daniel Bambang Dwi Byantoro who studied at Holy Cross in Brookline and had become Orthodox. Daniel sent them some materials about the faith. In 1989, then Fr. Daniel Byantoro received into the Church Parluhutan and Fina, who took the names Chrysostomos and Elisabeth. In 1991 the Metropolitan Dionysios of New Zealand sent Chrysostomos,

opened a church that had been built by Greek merchants in 1924. According to Trambas, the mid-twentieth century saw the Eastern Orthodox establish a small presence in Korea, Hong Kong, and India. Second, the Russians and

Greeks established expatriate parishes, often first through their embassies. Taking Kuala Lumpur as an example, the Russian Embassy there holds monthly liturgies. Also, a fledgling Greek mission has emerged, albeit underground

and off the radar of the government.

small but dynamic Orthodox communities one Greek and one Russian. The Russian parish of Singapore includes a small female monastery. The third and final avenue for Orthodox evangelization came through the conversion, education, and ordination of local clergy. This has been true in India, Korea, and dramatically in Indonesia.

15 Accessed April 25, 2013, http://www.omhksea.org/metropolis-of-singapore/ 16 This list and the accompanying map is not exhaustive of the Orthodox presence throughout Indonesia. More information about Orthodox throughout Sumatra may be gleaned from disparate online sites:

http://ierapostoli.wordpress.com/2008/10/20/nias/; http://timotheoshutagalung.blogspot.com.

17 Fr. Yohanes serves communities in East Java [J] and Sulawesi [K]. For further information on his life and work, see http://fryohanesbambang.blogspot.com.

The Orthodox presence in Malaysia extends from Singapore, which has two

Map 1 Map 2

Map 1

Map 1 Map 2

Map 2

Orthodox Batak Wedding Evangelismos, Sumbul A mass baptism at St. Ephraim, Sumbul Fr. Chrysostomos and

Orthodox Batak Wedding

Orthodox Batak Wedding Evangelismos, Sumbul A mass baptism at St. Ephraim, Sumbul Fr. Chrysostomos and Fr.

Evangelismos, Sumbul

Orthodox Batak Wedding Evangelismos, Sumbul A mass baptism at St. Ephraim, Sumbul Fr. Chrysostomos and Fr.

A mass baptism at St. Ephraim, Sumbul

Evangelismos, Sumbul A mass baptism at St. Ephraim, Sumbul Fr. Chrysostomos and Fr. Athanasios Manalu St.

Fr. Chrysostomos and Fr. Athanasios Manalu

at St. Ephraim, Sumbul Fr. Chrysostomos and Fr. Athanasios Manalu St. Ephraim, Sumbul Cliros at St

St. Ephraim, Sumbul

at St. Ephraim, Sumbul Fr. Chrysostomos and Fr. Athanasios Manalu St. Ephraim, Sumbul Cliros at St

Cliros at St Demetrius, Medan

Elisabeth, and their ten-month-old baby daughter, Sotiria, to the Thessaloniki for post- graduate studies at Aristotle University. Supported in scholarships by the Church of Greece, both he and his wife would graduate with Masters of Theology. In 1994 before he finished his studies, the Metropolitan of Arta ordained him a deacon and then a presbyter. For the next year he served at a parish forty kilometers outside Thessaloniki. In 1996, his time in Greece ended and he and his family were sent to serve at St. Andreas, the Cathedral of Wellington, New Zealand. Traveling back from Greece to New Zealand, Fr. Chrysostomos and his family stopped over in Indonesia. He visited his parents in his village, Tarutung, which is a six hour drive from Medan. His brother, now Fr. Athanasios, and his wife had already taught their parents and some other relatives about Eastern Orthodoxy. During his visit to his parents’ house, Fr. Chrysostomos baptized about thirty people, among them his seven living brothers and sisters, his father and mother (who took the names Constantine and Helen), and other close relatives. When he left for New Zealand, the flock remained under his brother’s attention, but without a presbyter and the full liturgical services. After serving for two years in Wellington, Fr. Chrysostomos asked the metropolitan to give him a blessing to return to Sumatra, then under Metropolitan Nikitas (Lulias) of the newly established diocese of Hong Kong and all Southeast Asia. Although in some ways it was a homecoming in returning to Indonesia, Medan remained an unknown location for the family. It was strange city for Fr. Chrysostomos and his wife, but more so for their young children, who had grown up in Greece and New Zealand. They began holding Sunday liturgies at their rented house. After a few years, as their numbers increased. The community started an orphanage. When that closed, Fr. Chrysostomos incorporated the younger children into his own household and sent the older ones to distant relatives. As of 2013, the household consists of many more than just Fr. Chrysostomos, his wife, and two daughters. Some are orphans; some are distance relatives come from nearby villages to work and study in Medan. Others, older students traveling to study at the theological school, stay in the guest rooms. Johannes, the late son of Fr. Chrysostomos, died from a motorbike accident in 2009, at the age of thirteen. Presbytera Elisabeth was born on the 15 th of July, 1964, to a Lutheran couple, Elia and Suzana Koameskh, on the Island of Rote, West Timor [M]. She is the third of five siblings. When, at the age of two, her father died, her mother dedicated Elisabeth to God;

Metropolitan Konstantine with the Manalu family, 2012 Helen Tamaria Aritonang (†2011) the mother of Fr.

Metropolitan Konstantine with the Manalu family, 2012

Metropolitan Konstantine with the Manalu family, 2012 Helen Tamaria Aritonang (†2011) the mother of Fr. Chrysostomos

Helen Tamaria Aritonang (†2011) the mother of Fr. Chrysostomos

Tamaria Aritonang (†2011) the mother of Fr. Chrysostomos Johannes Manalu (†2009) at his paternal grandfather’s

Johannes Manalu (†2009) at his paternal grandfather’s funeral in 2009

and so from her earliest of years she had hoped of becoming a Lutheran minister. Many

Pentecostal missionaries came to her island growing up, both Indonesian and foreign. This

heavily influenced the youth culture, with an emphasis on prayer meetings, healings, and

Bible studies. Eventually, her two eldest brothers would become pastors of Pentecostal

churches. She too would pursue ministry, attending the Evangelical School of Theology

where she met her future husband.

She teaches classes on English, Greek, and church history at St. Paul’s.

She also has

official advisory roles in all of the Foundation’s schools. In 2009, she started taking part in

Indonesian politics as the regional secretary of the Christian Party, which has, as of 2009,

twelve legislative representatives. Part of her involvement springs from the hope of gaining

greater acceptance of Christians throughout Indonesia. In a 2011 e‐mail she stated,

I want to teach my students, as a young generation of Christians, to be aware of what happens in their country. There are many aspects of national life that, if they bear in mind the

proclamations of the Gospel, will bring much transformation. Politics is good in good hands. It’s

a medium to touch other people. 1

Through her political and educational work she functions as a liaison between Orthodox

and Protestant, Christian and Muslim.

T he Or

thodox Churches and Institutions throughout Sumatra

Fr. Chysostomos and Fr. Athanasios Manalu serve all of the Orthodox communities

throughout North Sumatra. During a 2012 visit to Medan, Metropolitan Konstantine

mentioned the possibility of ordaining a few students of Fr. Chrysostomos. 2 He assessed

the need at least 4 other priests and set a tentative date for 2013. As Fr. Chrysostomos

stated in 2010, “We have many communities with interest in the Orthodox faith. It is hard

to meet the needs of the many missions we have throughout Sumatra.” 3 Fr. Athanasios

studied theology in Evangelical School in Medan. As stated above, he found the Orthodox

Church through the guidance of Fr. Chrysostomos. In 1992, he stayed at a monastery in

Greece and learnt iconography from nuns. His iconography can be found in all of the

parishes throughout Sumatra. Fr. Chrysostomos serves the parish in Medan [A], St

Demetrius [A], with over three hundred baptized. Fr. Athanasios lives and serves the

1 E-mail from Presbytera Elisabeth Manalu, May 15, 2011.

2 E-mail from Presbytera Elisabeth Manalu, March 23, 2013. Met. Nektarios along with then Archimandrite Konstantine visited Medan in April of 2011. Accessed February 13, 2013

http://www.omhksea.org/2011/05/metropolitan-nektarios-visit-in-medansumatra-part-1/

3 Interview with Fr. Chrysostomos Manalu with the author. October 16, 2010 in Medan, Indonesia.

.
.

St Demetrius, Medan

. St Demetrius, Medan St Paulus Theological School, Office Fr. Chyrsostomos teaching a class of protestant

St Paulus Theological School, Office

. St Demetrius, Medan St Paulus Theological School, Office Fr. Chyrsostomos teaching a class of protestant

Fr. Chyrsostomos teaching a class of protestant pastors

Office Fr. Chyrsostomos teaching a class of protestant pastors Students of St. Paulus Graduating Class of
Office Fr. Chyrsostomos teaching a class of protestant pastors Students of St. Paulus Graduating Class of

Students of St. Paulus

Graduating Class of 2012, St. Paulus

community in Tarutung [B], which has three separate communities with over one hundred baptized: Holy Resurrection, St. Eudorkia, and St. Nikolaos. Tarutung, the home of the

Manalu family, is the seat of North Tapanuli Regency in Northern Sumatra, directly south of Lake Toba. Sumbul [C], a town Southeast of Medan and northeast of Tarutung, has two growing Orthodox parishes there, St Ephraim with over two hundred baptized and

Evangelismos with over two hundred fifty.

baptized sixty-six catechumens. 21 On Nias [D] an island off the west coast of Sumatra are two stable parishes, St. Paul with over two hundred baptized and Evangelismos with

approximately one hundred fifty.

northern Sumatra have asked Fr. Chrysostomos and Fr. Athanasios to visit, teach, and start Orthodox parishes. (Map 2 also indicates the nearest Orthodox communities not in Sumatra: Metropolitan See of Singapore [E], the mission in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia [F], and the expanding Orthodox communities in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia [G]).

The Orthodox community in Medan

The Northern Sumatran city of Medan contains two million people, with another two million in the surrounding regency or county. This busy, polluted metropolis divides somewhat evenly between Christians and Muslims - the skyline as proof, with crosses competing with the Islamic domes. In contrast, the overall Sumatran population splits about 90% Muslim and 10% Christian. The Orthodox presence in Medan centers around the St. Paulus Theological School and the Church of St. Demetrius. The other three institutions include a grade school with an attached monastery, a more rural primary school, a hospital, and a computer institute. Kompleks Sekolah Tinggi Theologia Paulus The institutions in Medan all come under the legal umbrella of the Orthodox Foundation. The main complex includes an office, the church of St. Demetrius, a small

dormitory, and the St. Paulus Theological School.

street with its back to a creek and marshland. The St Paulus Theological School opened in

2005 as the center piece of the plan to establish an Orthodox presence in Medan. As of

2011, the school had 522 students and over 200 alumni.

Bible college and a seminary. Some of the students are young, college age, particularly

On Christmas of 2012, Fr. Chrysostomos

Numerous other Batak communities throughout

The complex stands tucked off a busy

It operates like a mix between a

21 Accessed April 25, 2013, http://orthodoxmission.org.gr/2013/04/theotokos-hospital-is-ready/

Divine Liturgy at St. Demetrius, Medan, 2010 Sunday of Orthodoxy, 2013
Divine Liturgy at St. Demetrius, Medan, 2010 Sunday of Orthodoxy, 2013
Divine Liturgy at St. Demetrius, Medan, 2010 Sunday of Orthodoxy, 2013
Divine Liturgy at St. Demetrius, Medan, 2010 Sunday of Orthodoxy, 2013

Divine Liturgy at St. Demetrius, Medan, 2010

Divine Liturgy at St. Demetrius, Medan, 2010 Sunday of Orthodoxy, 2013

Sunday of Orthodoxy, 2013

those in the three-year program. Many, though, are active church leaders looking to continue their graduate studies. Most of the students originate from Medan itself but many come from smaller towns throughout Sumatra. About 15% of the students are Orthodox; the rest are Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, and other Protestant denominations. The library lacks a solid collection of serious historical, doctrinal, and exegetical works. What little Orthodox literature they have is in Greek. The works in Bahasa come from Protestant translators and heavily emphasize an evangelical or reformed theology. The students do have access to parallel Greek/Bahasa Bibles. Through the many branches of the Orthodox Foundation in Medan, Fr. Chrysostomos works to foster inter-denominational and inter-religious dialogue. According to him,

It’s a benefit to build mutual understanding, either among the Christians, or the other religious

communities. Our teaching, though, is Orthodox in doctrine.

liturgical and spiritual life; they do share much of our Orthodox faith. We build on this and seek to fill the gaps. 22

The Protestants do not share our

He is a “prince” – his word of the Manalu clan of the Toba Batak tribe. As the first son of

the first son of the first son, he has clan responsibilities that go beyond his ecclesiastical

role. Every month he preaches at a protestant church with almost 700 attendees.

primary form of outreach comes through the classroom. Most of the students at St. Paulus

are pastors and leaders of the Protestant Batak Churches.

a supervisor to the Batak Theological Society, basically the youth group of theological school. According to Presbytera Elisabeth, at first, locals identified Fr. Chrysostomos as an “ustadz,” a teacher of Islam. After fifteen years in Medan, many of the religious leaders now identify him and the Orthodox, in general “as the bridge to connect the Christian and Muslim.” 23 In such ways, he has familiarized the people in North Sumatra with Eastern Orthodoxy. Church of St Demetrius

The building of St Demetrius blends the Byzantine and Indonesian the materials, the arrangement of the space, the lines and curves. The icon of the Theotokos with child has a round matriarchal presence, like many of the leading Indonesian ladies. The wood floors, many windows, and light paint created a gentle liturgical space. To the north, near

The

Fr. Chrysostomos also functions

22 Interview with Fr. Chrysostomos Manalu with the author. October 16, 2010 in Medan, Indonesia. 23 E-mail from Presbytera Elisabeth Manalu, March 23, 2013.

Hospital of the Theotokos, Medan, maternity ward and operating table, Dormition of the Theotokos Monastery
Hospital of the Theotokos, Medan, maternity ward and operating table, Dormition of the Theotokos Monastery

Hospital of the Theotokos, Medan, maternity ward and operating table,

of the Theotokos, Medan, maternity ward and operating table, Dormition of the Theotokos Monastery at St

Dormition of the Theotokos Monastery at St Sophia School, Medan

table, Dormition of the Theotokos Monastery at St Sophia School, Medan Academy of Management and Computers,

Academy of Management and Computers, Medan

the front by the iconostasis, the wood floor hides an adult size baptismal font. In the back stood sand boxes for candles in front of a large icon of St. Demetrius. The front of the church radiates bright colors greens, oranges, and blues with its red tiled, stone columned portico. During services, women stand on the north side, men on the south. The services are in Bahasa with touches of Greek and English. (For the communities in Nias and

Tarutung, the people sing the services in their own local languages, Nias and Batak.)

dome of the church, the beard of priests, the clothes of nun, some of the chant strikes the Indonesian as similar to the cultural forms of Islam. For many, Orthodoxy’s most dramatic contrast with Islam and Protestantism would be the use of icons. Schools

In 1999, Fr. Chrysostomos established the St. Sophia Orthodox School in Tanjung Anom, a village on the outskirts of Medan. This established the first institution of the Orthodox Foundation besides the parish of St. Demetrius. The school opened as a kindergarten for thirty-three children. As Presbytera Elisabeth tells the story:

The

In March, before the school year ended, parents and children pleaded with Fr. Chrysostomos to expand the school. Knowing that there were not enough funds, he told the children, parents, and teachers to pray. One week later, an Orthodox friend from Australia donated an amount of money for the school, sufficient to purchase their current grounds and built three room classrooms at once. 24

As of 2013, St Sophia went through high school with thirty teachers, five staff members, and five hundred students. Behind the main courtyard, behind the new swimming pool, stands a small chapel. The chapel functions both for the school and for the small monastery located on campus. Mother Maria resides in this small monastery dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos. She returned from living in a monastery in Greece in 2009. Recently, two other Orthodox schools have been established in Northern Sumatra. St. Nikitas School, founded in 2003, is an elementary school located in an impoverished neighborhood of Medan. As of 2010, twelve teachers and three staff members served 350 students. As of 2013, fifteen teachers serve three hundred students. St. Nikoalas was founded in 2005 as part of the outreach to the devastated population of Nias Island after the 2004 tsunami. In 2010, fifteen teachers served one hundred fifty students. In 2013, the school decreased to ten teachers and ninety students. All three of the schools are Orthodox

24 E-mail from Presbytera Elisabeth Manalu, May 15, 2011.

in leadership, though many of the teachers are Protestant or Catholic. All three schools are officially recognized by the Ministry of Education. Rumah Sakit Umum Theotokos - Hospital General In a smaller neighborhood of Deli Serdang the regency surrounding Medan stands a small hospital, dedicated to the Theotokos. A prominent icon in the main entrance invokes her presence. According to the plaque, it opened on the 13 th of February, 2010. As of October 2010, it had ten hospital rooms, nineteen beds, a pharmacy, and offices for the two doctors, four nurses, and administration. The doctors are a mixture of Protestant, Catholic, and Muslim. In 2011, the government recognized their new status as a hospital. Periodically, the hospital provides free services to the community. The hospital also provides discounts to the seminary students and church members. Academy of Management and Computers Founded in 2000, the Academy of Management and Computers provides three years of training in information technology and management with two hundred current students, twelve lecturers, and four staff. While the theology school develops the church, this school helps develop the employment opportunities of the people here in Medan. Remaining Questions How does the community harmonize or reconcile their culture with the ancient

faith?

into their Christianity. As Presbytera Elisabeth stated, “Batak people are known in

Indonesia as people who tightly hold their traditions. All the cycles of human life have

cultural values.25 That said, many animistic practices remain alive in their society.

common practice to ask spirits for success (e.g. riches, health, position) or to punish others. 26 It remains to be seen how the Eastern Orthodox liturgical, canonical, and spiritual practices will take shape in the new soil of Sumatra.

There are three primary concerns of the future of the Orthodox community in Sumatra. First, the expanding communities need education. The process of taking ownership of the Orthodox heritage, while monumental, requires concerted effort and clear steps. Second, the humanitarian and education programs require outside funding.

For the past hundred fifty years, the Batak people have incorporated their culture

It is a

25 E-mail from Presbytera Elisabeth Manalu, March 23, 2013. 26 Batara Sihombing, “Batak and Wealth: A Critical Study of Materialism in the Batak Churches in Indonesia,Mission Studies, 21 no 1 2004, p 25. C.f. Edward Nyhus, “Encounter of Christianity and animism among the Toba Bataks of North Sumatra,South East Asia Journal of Theology, 10 no 2-3 O-Ja 1968-1969, p 33-52.

Communities and philanthropic societies in Australia and Greece have made significant contributions through financial donation and medical visits. Third, leaders need to emerge who share in the common vision already established. As Presbytera Elisabeth stated, “we consider that north Sumatera has potential ground to land on [sic], but we need a good systematic ministry program as a whole.” 27 Part of this depends on the episcopal support and the ordination of more clergy. The future will be determined by the education, training, and inspiration of the present generation. This community in Sumatra forms a new chapter in the ongoing story of the Eastern Church.

27 E-mail from Presbytera Elisabeth Manalu, March 23, 2013.

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