29.09.17 | News

Nine around a table

For the first time the Toraja Mamasa Church hosted the annually regional forum of the nine EMS member churches

A warm welcome in Mamasa includes traditional music and dance. (Photo: EMS/Heiligers)

Therefore, the church leaders travelled from all over Indonesia to Mamasa – a nine hour trip from the international airport in Makassar. But as Hans Heinrich, EMS Liaison Secretary for Indonesia, says the road nowadays is way better than it used to be. “A few years ago it still took 12 to 14 hours with a jeep to reach Mamasa. The high-valley used to be a very remote place”, he says, remembering the time he used to live up here with his family.

In Mamasa, the Indonesian church leaders as well as delegates of EMS are welcomed with a performance of traditional music and dance. Aspar Nuryadin, assistant of the district administrator, attends the opening worship service and thanks everyone for coming. He encourages the church leaders to talk about the rising tension between Christians and Muslims in some regions of Indonesia, for example before and after the governor’s election in Jakarta. What could the churches do to prevent these things from happening on Sulawesi, he asks. “In Toraja and Toraja Mamasa people of two different religions live peacefully together and respect each other, that could be a role model for others,” the Muslim says. He hopes that this tolerance will last in this region and that people are not influenced by intolerance and fake news on social media.

Hengky Gunawan Tupalangi, the bishop of the Toraja Mamasa Church, also welcomes the guests at his church. He is looking forward to fruitful discussions and exchange during the upcoming days. Besides talking about recent issues and challenges the churches are facing, the results of the last EMS Mission Council and questions such as “What support do we need by EMS?” or “What common topics are important for Indonesian churches as well as the entire international EMS Fellowship?” are on the agenda.

The nine Indonesian member churches of EMS also want to intensify and strengthen their Sunday Schools. The future of the church lies with the children, they are convinced. Therefore, they want to put resources together and go through their existing Sunday school material to see what they could share and what else they might need to produce.

Full days are lying ahead of the participants of the regional forum before they all head down the bumpy but improved road to return home.

Elisa Heiligers

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