Mission History in Indonesia

1979: Two WELS pastors arrive in country.

Early 1980s: A third pastor arrives and worship services begin.

Mid-1980s: A seminary is organized to train evangelists and pastors. Various WELS pastors serve as theological instructors and advisors until 1994.

1994: WELS suspends the seminary program and withdraws pastors because of difficulties that arose from outside the church. Later in the year, one WELS pastor returns as theological advisor.

1995: Six nationals are ordained as pastors and four are assigned as vicars. There are six congregations and four exploratory preaching stations.

1998: The seminary is reopened. The theological advisor’s family is evacuated, but later returns. Five new students enroll in the seminary, and a satellite seminary is established in Central Java. National pastors begin teaching in the seminary.

2001: Five more men complete seminary studies and are immediately assigned to the growing number of congregations. After the September 11 attacks, the theological advisor’s family is permanently recalled to the United States, a year and a half earlier than planned.

2002: Gereja Lutheran Indonesia has 11 congregations and nine exploratory preaching stations, representing a 60% growth in membership in two years. Twenty-one national workers are serving the church.

2003: Gereja Lutheran Indonesia is accepted into fellowship with WELS.

2004: Possibilities for outreach by Gereja Lutheran Indonesia in Papua, Nusa Tenggara Timur, and East Java are explored. The final step in the proposal for a transition is accepted by the Board for World Missions.

2005: Gereja Lutheran Indonesia sends a pastor and an evangelist to begin work in Papua. It also joins the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC).

2010: Gereja Lutheran Indonesia now has five congregations and 25 exploratory preaching stations; nine of these preaching stations are in Nusa Tenggara Timur.

2011: A WELS pastor called by WELS to serve the seminary, Sekolah Tinggi Teologi Lutheran (STTL), arrives in Yogyakarta in July. He and his wife are the first WELS personnel to live in-country since 2001.

2012: After 19 years of faithful service, the WELS Indonesia field coordinator accepts a new position in the U.S. The other WELS seminary professor at STTL takes on the duties of field coordinator. Five nationals attend a regional translators seminar at Asia Lutheran Seminary in Hong Kong sponsored by WELS Multi-Language Productions (MLP). Initial outreach in Kalimantan is begun by one young man after the completion of his theological studies at STTL.

2013: A husband and wife team from GLI attend classes for one academic year at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. A long-range plan calls for the man to become the first GLI liaison to WELS. His wife will be the first national to serve as MLP’s coordinator for all GLI publications.

2014: The new GLI Publications Coordinator for WELS Multi-Language Productions returns to Indonesia after her studies at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary and begins her work. Four young men complete their theological studies at STTL and are assigned as vicars.

2015: Revisions to the GLI Constitution and Bylaws are ratified at the October biennial synod convention. The revisions include the addition of dedicated boards and committees which will focus on exploration, outreach, education, publications, and stewardship. Ten evangelists are ordained as pastors. The convention also formally elects the evangelist who studied at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary as the GLI liaison to WELS. Representatives from GLI attend the first regional CELC convention, including one man who presents a paper on baptism. GLI partners with WELS Christian Aid and Relief (CAR) in bringing aid to flood victims, those in need, etc. Three young men complete their theological studies at STTL and are assigned as vicars.

2016: A Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary professor visits Indonesia for a seminar attended by most of GLI’s called workers and all students of STTL. As part of an ongoing process for maintaining national accreditation, STTL continues to look at options for relocating and building a new campus.

2018: Representatives of GLI meet with WELS colleagues from the Asia-Pacific Rim Administrative Committee and the Pastoral Studies Institute and begin planning for the strategic withdrawal of the last WELS pastor living in country. Land for a new STTL campus is purchased. GLI sends three representatives to regional CELC meeting in Hong Kong. STTL faculty is reorganized.

2019: GLI leadership recommends that biannual visits be made in 2020 and 2021 by the WELS Friendly Counselor after his retirement. Building permits are secured for the new STTL campus and a well is dug. The ceremonial laying of the first stones of the new STTL campus takes place in May.

2020: The WELS Friendly Counselor transitions to a part-time retirement call. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic disrupts global travel and requires all ministry to be done online. The STTL seminary project continues; about 75% of the project is completed by the end of the year. Classes are held both virtually and in person. With assistance from a WELS congregation, a small Lutheran high school in East Nusa Tenggara (SMAK) begins the expansion of its campus by breaking ground for a facility which will house a kitchen and cafeteria.

2021: Construction of the new seminary campus on the island of Java is completed.

2022: WELS Friendly Counselor Greg Bey makes the first trip to Indonesia since COVID-19 began to attend the GLI Synod Convention in July. GLI has 29 congregations, 30 pastors, 5 vicars, and 27 seminary students.


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