LCMS and GKLI Discussions
Pictured — LCMS: Rev. Daniel Preus, Fourth Vice-President; Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations; Mr. Darin Storkson, LCMS Southern Asia Regional Director. GKLI: The Rt Rev Aladin Sitio, Bishop; The Rev. Jon Albert Saragih, Secretray General; The Rev. Manahan Saragih, Pastor, Consistory Member; Vicar Simson Siregar, Assistant to the Bishop.
The Gereja Kristen Luther Indonesia (GKLI) – Indonesian Lutheran Christian Church split off from the Huria Kristen Batak Protestant (HKBP) – Protestant Christian Batak Church in 1965. The first and founding bishop, Rev. J. Sinaga, of the GKLI was a former pastor in the HKBP. After he attended Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, MN, in 1957. He returned to Indonesia with a new appreciation of Lutheranism and became increasingly frustrated with the influences of modernization and secularization upon the HKBP. He made attempts to reform the HKBP. Because of the secularization that came upon the HKBP in 1958, he wanted to return the church to pure Lutheran doctrine. In 1950 the HKBP had written its own confession, “The Confession of Faith of the Huria Kristen Batak Protestant,” (adopted 28 to 30 November 1958).
Rev. Sinaga’s attempts at reform were not received by the HKBP and he was excommunicated. The pastors and members who were sympathetic to Rev. Sinaga’s attempts decided to leave with him, even though the GKLI was not yet formed. They separated themselves from the HKBP, and eventually founded a movement within the HKBP, called the HKBP-Lutheran. (This might be considered akin to the Swedish Mission Provence today.) There was not originally an intention to begin a new church body. But HKBP forbad them from using the name HKBP-Lutheran. Like Martin Luther after reform failed, Pastor Sinaga felt compelled to form a new church body known as the Gereja Kristen Luther Indonesia (GKLI) – Indonesian Lutheran Christian Church, 18 May 1965. His efforts to return the HKBP to a more Lutheran orientation.
The basis for the teaching of the he Gereja Kristen Luther Indonesia (GKLI) – Indonesian Lutheran Christian Church is the Augsburg Confession. Rev. Sinaga translated the Augsburg Confession into Batak (not Indonesian because most of the members were not proficient in Indonesian at the time) in 1958.
The current GKLI constitution, Article II – Titled Faith, “The GKLI believes in the Triune God as revealed in Holy Scripture and confesses that the Old Testament and New Testament are the sole sources for the teaching and order of the true Church and confesses that the three ecumenical creeds, the unaltered Augsburg Confession, and the Small and Large Catechisms of Luther are correct interpretations of the Word of God.”
So while initially the founding bishop was alone in his efforts, he started an informal school for teaching and training Lutheran pastors. This eventually became the GKLI seminary that is in operation to this day. In March 2012 about 50 students attend the GKLI seminary: 20 are men and preparing for the Holy Ministry; 30 are women training for other church work. The seminary has 10 professors / lecturers. For many years the Norwegian Lutheran Church has assisted the GKLI, particularly in the area of theological education.
Juanita S. studied at the GKLI seminary to be a church musician. She would like to serve as a deaconess.
The GKLI has been aware of the LCMS for many years. The Lutheran Witness and the Reporter reached members of the GKLI 20 or more years ago. The GKLI has had the unexpressed desire to have discussions and fellowship with the LCMS for quite sometime. One pastor mentioned that we have been waiting for more than 15 years for contact with the LCMS. The Secretary General of the GKLI said that today is a historic day that will be remembered 100 years from now, that is, the discussions between the LCMS and GKLI.
A picture of LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison with Bishop Aladin Sitio appears on the cover of the April – June 2012 GKLI Preaching Journal, “Evangelium.”
As of March 2012, the GKLI has 90 Congregations, 24 Circuits, 30 Pastors, and 17,000+ Members. The GKLI voted unanimously to be in fellowship with the LCMS in November 2011.
Mr. Darin Storkson, LCMS Regional Director of Southern Asia and Bishop Aladin Sitio. Darin Storkson laid much of the ground work for the discussions between the GKLI and the LCMS. He also interpreted between Indonesian and English for our discussions.
17 March 2012
– Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations
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