ICC NOTE: During this advent and Christmas season, we must remember those across the globe who are celebrating along with us the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. For many years the GKI and HKBP churches of Indonesia have been forced to perform their Christmas services outside in front of the presidential palace. both church buildings were closed by local authorities nearly 6 years ago due to pressure from local Muslim radicals. As each of use prepare to celebrate whether it is at home or in our local church, please keep these congregations in your prayers along with the millions of Christians who face persecution during Christmas.
12/4/2015 Indonesia (Jakarta Post) – The Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Yasmin in Bogor, West Java, is set to hold its Advent and Christmas services in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta alongside the congregation of the Batak Protestant Church (HKBP) in Bekasi and interfaith friends from various religious communities.
GKI Yasmin spokesperson Dwiati Novita Rini said Wednesday that the congregation had invited various parties to attend the celebration and received support from its solidarity network including the Wahid Institute and the Setara Institute.
“It will be an interfaith and interreligious Christmas celebration,” Rini told thejakartapost.com.
According to Rini, the congregation would hold its second and fourth Advent services on Dec. 6 and 20 at 1 p.m., while the Christmas service would be held on Dec. 25 at 2 p.m. All are set to take place in front of the State Palace.
This year will mark the sixth Christmas celebration held by the congregation outside of its church since the Bogor city administration revoked the church’s building permit (IMB) and sealed the building in 2010. Until today the administration has continued to reject the congregation’s right to worship at its own church.
Since then, members of its solidarity network, which includes human rights organizations such as the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH), Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and the Bhinneka Tunggal Ika National Alliance, have accompanied the congregation during their services.
“Many friends have come to support us every time we held our Christmas celebration in front of the palace,” said another GKI Yasmin spokesperson, Bona Sigalingging.
According to Bona, by inviting people from different religious backgrounds, the GKI Yasmin congregation wanted to encourage other Christian minority groups in Indonesia to be brave, speak up and demand that their rights be protected, as they were also citizens of the republic.
“We want to knock on the doors of other [Christian] churches so they will self-reflect and realize that they should not surrender just because they are a minority,” said Bona.
He added that he also wanted to prove the falsity of claims that the congregation had been disbanded, as all pastors and internal parties from GKI supported GKI Yasmin in holding the interfaith celebration. (kes)