Protestant Christian Batak Church
(Huria Kristen Batak Protestant, HKBP)
The Batak Protestant Christian Church is the fruit of the work of the Rhineland Mission (Germany) which began to work in the Batak land of North Sumatra in 1861. The Batak people had strongly rejected earlier attempts to evangelize them. The history of the mission and the church cannot be separated from the person of I.L. Nommensen, “the apostle to the Batak people”, who arrived in 1864 and stayed until his death in 1918 as ephorus of the church. One of his great insights was the use of indigenous workers. The first school for Batak evangelists was established in 1868. Already in 1881 a church order was introduced, which enabled the church to grow strong in organization and size. The HKBP became autonomous in 1930. From 1940 onwards it was entirely self-governing, self-sup-porting and self-propagating. Today it is the largest Protestant church in Indonesia, with congregations in many parts of the archipelago and also in other countries.
The HKBP understands itself as a church of Christ, established by the work of the Holy Spirit, an organism that “lives from age to age and from generation to generation across the borders of continents, nations, races and languages”. It is part of the universal church, holding to one baptism. It has its own confession, adopted in 1951, which is based on the holy scriptures, on the Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian creeds, the Reformation and more recent confessions like the Barmen Theological Declaration of 1934. According to the latest revision of its constitution, the HKBP has a vision of developing itself to be an inclusive, dialogical and transparent church that, together with other Christians and people of other faiths, strives for the improvement of the quality of life of the people in the light of the love of Jesus Christ, for the glory of God. The mission of the church is carried out through its three departments: Diakonia, Marturia and Koinonia. The main concerns are bringing the gospel to non-Christian people (e.g. among Javanese and Tamil in Medan, tribes in Riau, in areas of transmigration), providing social services (e.g. care for orphans, for the blind, for drop-outs), gender justice, schools (nursery, elementary, high schools and technical, 145 in all), hospitals and health centres, HIV/AIDS, environment, violence and poverty.
An important institution of the HKBP is the Nommensen University which was opened in 1954, in response to the felt need for higher education in the new nation of Indonesia. It has, among many other colleges, a faculty of theology. The church also runs a theological seminary, a teacher-preacher school, a Bible women’s school and a deaconess training school.
It is the conviction of the HKBP that it is God’s plan to save the Batak people in order to be a blessing for Indonesia in particular, and for the world in general.