Simalungun Protestant Christian Church
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Gereja Kristen Protestan Simalungun (GKPS - Simalungun Protestant Christian Church) is a Lutheran and Reformed Protestant church formally founded to spread Christianity among the Simalungun people, a tribe living in Simalungun, North Sumatra, Indonesia. It has a baptized membership of 211,383.
August Theis led a group of Deutsch missionaries to spread Christianity to the Simalungun area after he received a telegram from the local Rheinische Missionsgesellschaft (RMG - Deutschlands-based sending institution) leader. On September 2, 1903 they arrived at Pematang Raya to begin their mission among the Simalungunese. September 2 has been celebrated each year by GKPS all over the world as an olob-olob (Simalungunese for joyous) day to thank God that the Bible has entered Simalungun.
The sending mission was effectively started in 1904 with August Theis at Pematang Raya and Guillaume at Purba Saribu (western part of Simalungun). Not until 1909 did the first Simalungunese Christian baptism occur at Pematang Raya. Later in the same year, 38 other Simalungunese were baptized at Parapat.
Up to 1910, 17 churches were founded inside the Simalungun area, the embryo of the present GKPS. They are:
- Tigaras, August 15, 1903
- Tinjoan, August 15, 1903
- Pematang Raya, September 2, 1903
- Raya Usang, September 8, 1903
- Dolok Saribu, September 14, 1903
- Bulu Raya, June 16, 1904
- Purba Saribu, June 10, 1905
- Haranggaol, March 3, 1906
- Raya Tongah, June 7, 1906
- Purba Dolok, August 15, 1906
- Pamatang Purba, August 15, 1906
- Purba Tongah, 1906
- Hinalang, 8 September 1908
- Kariahan, 1908
- Saribudolok, 6 September 1909
- Tambun Raya, 2 November 1909
The first missions were held using the Toba language. Simalungunese resistance to the Westerners and their lack of comprehension of the Toba language decreased RMG effectiveness and therefore held back the growth of Christianity among the Simalungunese.
On September 1, 1928, the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Christianity at Simalungun was held at Pematang Raya. On this occasion, some Guru (teachers) and Sintua (deacons) agreed to found a committee which planned to translate church-related text books into the Simalungun language. This produced Haleluya (singing book) and Manna (daily reading book).
On November 15 of the same year, a group called "Kongsi Laita" (laita means "let's go") was founded at Sondiraya by some members of the Pematang Raya church to ask the Simalungunese to spread Christianity by themselves to others.
Simalungun District inside HKBP Simalungun
On September 26, 1940, all of the churches inside the Simalungun area were officially grouped together as a single district inside HKBP (Huria Kristen Batak Protestan). 12 years later on October 5, 1952, Simalungun District synod members held a meeting to prepare a separation between themselves and HKBP. The new church was called HKBPS (HKBP-Simalungun).
HKBPS reorganized themselves on November 30, 1952, by dividing themselves into three districts. An administrative office was also built in Sudirman Street, Pematang Siantar, as a headquarters.
HKBP-Simalungun transformation into GKPS
HKBPS transformed its organization and name into Gereja Kristen Protestan Simalungun (GKPS) on September 1, 1963. In order to serve the Simalungunese better, GKPS founded its educational center at Pematang Raya and a dormitory for boys and girls. GKPS also founded a centre for agricultural training on January 15, 1964, at Pematang Siantar, which is called PELPEM GKPS.
GKPS was accepted into Persekutuan Gereja-gereja Indonesia (PGI, or Indonesian churches association) in 1963. GKPS has also always co-operated strongly with Lutheran churches around the world such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA). On the international level, GKPS is registered in several international church organization such as:
GKPS' other overseas partners include:
- Mulheim Church (Germany)
- UEM (United Evangelical Mission)
- EZE (Evangelische Zentralstelle für Entwicklunghilfe)
- Brot für die Welt
- Kirchenkreis Hagen
- Kirchenkreis Solingen
- Kirscht di Hacenburg
- Dekanat Bad Marienberg