PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN UNITY
Justice and only justice
Jointly prepared and published by
TO THOSE ORGANIZING
THE WEEK OF PRAYER
The search for unity: throughout the year
The traditional period in the northern hemisphere for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is 18-25 January. Those dates were proposed in 1908 by Paul Wattson to cover the days between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul, and therefore have a symbolic significance. In the southern hemisphere where January is a vacation time churches often find other days to celebrate the Week of Prayer, for example around Pentecost (suggested by the Faith and Order movement in 1926), which is also a symbolic date for the unity of the Church.
Mindful of the need for flexibility, we invite you to use this material throughout the whole year to express the degree of communion which the churches have already reached, and to pray together for that full unity which is Christ’s will.
Adapting the text
This material is offered with the understanding that, whenever possible, it will be adapted for use in local situations. Account should be taken of local liturgical and devotional practice, and of the whole social and cultural context. Such adaptation should ideally take place ecumenically. In some places ecumenical structures are already set up for adapting the material; in other places, we hope that the need to adapt it will be a stimulus to creating such structures.
Using the Week of Prayer material
BIBLICAL TEXT FOR 2019
Rejoice before the Lord your God — you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female slaves, the Levites resident in your towns, as well as the strangers, the orphans, and the widows who are among you — at the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and diligently observe these statutes.
You shall keep the festival of booths for seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing-floor and your wine press. Rejoice during your festival, you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female slaves, as well as the Levites, the strangers, the orphans, and the widows resident in your towns. For seven days you shall keep the festival to the Lord your God at the place that the Lord will choose; for the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all your undertakings, and you shall surely celebrate.
Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the festival of unleavened bread, at the festival of weeks, and at the festival of booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed; all shall give as they are able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.
You shall appoint judges and officials throughout your tribes, in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall render just decisions for the people. You must not distort justice; you must not show partiality; and you must not accept bribes, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
New Revised Standard Version
INTRODUCTION TO THE THEME
Justice and only justice you shall pursue
Every year Christians across the world gather in prayer for growth in unity. We do this in a world where corruption, greed and injustice bring about inequality and division. Ours is a united prayer in a fractured world: this is powerful. However, as individual Christians and communities, we are often complicit with injustice, and yet we are called together to form a united witness for justice and to be a means of Christ’s healing grace for the brokenness of the world.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2019 has been prepared by Christians from Indonesia. With a population of 265 million, 86% of whom are reckoned to be Muslim, Indonesia is well known as having the largest Muslim population of any country. However, about 10% of Indonesians are Christian from various traditions. In terms of both population and the vast extension of the country Indonesia is the biggest nation in South East Asia. It has more than 17,000 islands, 1,340 different ethnic groups and over 740 local languages and yet is united in its plurality by one national language Bahasa Indonesia. The nation is founded on five principles called Pancasila, with the motto Bhineka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity). Across the diversity of ethnicity, language and religion, Indonesians have lived by the principle of gotong royong which is to live in solidarity and by collaboration. This means sharing in all aspects of life, work, grief and festivities, and regarding all Indonesians as brothers and sisters.
This always fragile harmony is today threatened in new ways. Much of the economic growth that Indonesia has experienced in recent decades has been built on a system that has competition at its heart. This is in stark contrast to the collaboration of gotong royong. Corruption is experienced in many forms. It infects politics and business, often with devastating consequences for the environment. In particular, corruption undermines justice and the implementation of law. Too often those who are supposed to promote justice and protect the weak do the opposite. As a consequence, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened; and so a country rich in resources has the scandal of many people living in poverty. As a traditional Indonesian saying goes, “A mouse dies of hunger in the barn full of rice.” Meanwhile particular ethnic and religious groups are often associated with wealth in ways that have fed tensions. Radicalization that pits one community against another has grown and is exacerbated by the misuse of social media that demonizes particular communities.
Christian communities in such an environment become newly aware of their unity as they join in a common concern and a common response to an unjust reality. At the same time, confronted by these injustices, we are obliged, as Christians, to examine the ways in which we are complicit. Only by heeding Jesus’s prayer “that they all may be one” can we witness to living unity in diversity. It is through our unity in Christ that we will be able to combat injustice and serve the needs of its victims.
Moved by these concerns, the Christians of Indonesia found that the words of Deuteronomy, “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue ...” (see Deut. 16:18-20) spoke powerfully to their situation and needs. Before the people of God enter the land God has promised them they renew their commitment to the Covenant God established with them. The pericope comes in a chapter whose central theme is the festivities to be celebrated by the Covenant people. After each festival the people are instructed, “Rejoice during your festival, you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female slaves, as well as the Levites, the strangers, the orphans, and the widows resident in your towns” (Deut. 16:14, see also 16:11). Indonesian Christians look to recover this same spirit of inclusive festivities across communities, which they previously enjoyed. At the end of this long chapter it may seem strange to have two verses about appointing judges, but in this Indonesian context the links between festivities for all and justice become alive. As people of the Covenant established in Jesus, we know that the delights of the heavenly banquet will be given to those who hunger and thirst and are persecuted for justice “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:6, 10).
Christ’s Church is called to be a foretaste of this kingdom. However, in our disunity we fall short. We fail to be the sign of God’s love for his people. Just as injustice has widened the divisions that have riven Indonesian society, so injustice has also fed the divisions of the Church. We repent of the injustice that causes division, but as Christians we also believe in the power of Christ to forgive us and heal. And so, we find ourselves united under the cross of Christ, calling both for his grace to end injustice and for his mercy for the sins which have caused our division.
The reflections for the eight days and the worship service will be focused on the chosen theme. To deepen our reflection on unity and justice, the topic of each day has been carefully chosen to present struggles that result from injustice. The themes are:
Day 1: Let justice roll down like water (Amos 5: 24)
The preparatory work on the theme for this year’s Week of Prayer material was undertaken by a group of representatives of different Christian communities in Indonesia. This ecumenical group was brought together by the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (Persekutuan Gereja-gereja di Indonesia, PGI) under the leadership of Rev. Dr Henriette T. Hutabarat Lebang, and the Indonesian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (Konferensi Waligereja Indonesia, KWI) under the leadership of Mgr Ignatius Suharyo. Gratitude is extended in particular to the leaders of PGI and KWI, and those who contributed to these resources:
The materials of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2019 were presented by the local group to an international team sponsored jointly by the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU). At this meeting, held at the PGI’s Guest House in Jakarta on 3-8 September 2017, the draft text was edited and finalised.
The international team had the opportunity to worship with the congregations of Gereja Toraja Jemaat Kota and Gereja Katolik Santo Yakobus, both in Kelapa Gading, Jakarta. A visit to the Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park helped the international team to understand the diversity and the richness of various cultures and religions of the people of Indonesia as well as the basic principles that unite this big nation. A conversation session with some members of the Indonesian Christian Forum also enriched our understanding of the ecumenical fellowship of churches in Indonesia and its role in building a peaceful and just society of Indonesia.
On the last day of the meeting, the international team had an opportunity to introduce the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and how it is being used in a number of different contexts to the students and faculty members of the Jakarta Theological Seminary (JTS) and to church leaders and lay members at the JTS campus. The staff members of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches also gave a presentation on the Faith and Order document The Church: Towards a Common Vision that has been translated into Bahasa Indonesia.
The international team would like to thank the leaders of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia for their generosity in hosting us at the Guest House and to the staff members who made our stay so comfortable, especially Revd Sri Yuliana and Mr Abdiel Tanias. We also wish to express our gratitude for the support of the staff members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, in particular Revd Fr Agus Ulahay. Our appreciation also goes to the leaders and staff members of the Jakarta Theological Seminary who helped us in arranging a half-day seminar on their campus.
ECUMENICAL WORSHIP SERVICE
This worship service emphasizes the importance of moving from our discourses about unity, justice and mercy to action and concrete commitment, and to acts of unity, justice and mercy in our personal lives and in the life of our Christian communities.
Two particular elements of the worship need to be noted in the preparation of the celebration.
The first concerns the choice of readers in the Prayer of Repentance. It is important that the first reader (R1) be either an ordained minister or congregational leader while the other two readers may be members of the congregation.
The second element concerns the liturgical symbolic action which takes place after the Commitment to Unity through Justice and Mercy. It will be necessary to prepare two cards or tags for each person. During the service, participants are called to reflect on how they might commit to a particular act of justice, mercy, or unity. They will then be invited to write on each of the two cards what their own concrete commitment is. Each person attaches one of these cards to their own shirt. The second cards will be gathered up at the offering and will be put at the foot of the cross. At the conclusion of the worship, these cards will be distributed to each one as they leave the church, so that each may pray for another’s commitment.
Order of the Service
Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue
Call to worship
L Let us worship the Triune God.
L Jesus Christ, your cross brings new life and justice,
L Holy Spirit, you inspire our hearts to act justly,
L May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and
Gathering hymn (will be chosen locally)
L As Christians from separated communities, we gather here to pray for unity. This year, the theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity chosen by the churches in Indonesia is “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue.” This theme is imperative due to the recurring situations that bring divisions and conflicts. As we pray together, we are reminded that our calling as members of the body of Christ is to pursue and embody justice. Our unity in Christ empowers us to take part in the wider struggle for justice and to promote the dignity of life.
Hymn of praise
Prayer of repentance
L Beloved sisters and brothers, let us confess before the Lord that we have sinned and ask for forgiveness so that our worship will be pleasing to God.
R1 (read by an ordained minister or a leader of the congregation)
C Lord, have mercy. (This response may be sung.)
R2 (read by a member of the congregation)
C Lord, have mercy.
R3 (read by a different person)
C Lord, have mercy.
L May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive our sins and lead us to eternal life.
Proclamation of the Word of God
First reading: Deuteronomy 16:11-20
Responsorial Psalm: 82:1-8 (read or sung)
Response: Rise up, O God, judge the earth.
God has taken his place in the divine council;
Response: Rise up, O God, judge the earth.
Give justice to the weak and the orphan;
Response: Rise up, O God, judge the earth.
They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
Response: Rise up, O God, judge the earth.
I say, ‘You are gods,
Response: Rise up, O God, judge the earth.
Second reading: Romans 12:1-13
Gospel reading: Luke 4:14-21
Commitment to Justice, Mercy and Unity
L Jesus Christ prays for the unity of his disciples.
R1 As members of the body of Christ, we are called to walk together in his path.
R2 Let us hear his calling.
C Holy Spirit, unite us in action.
R1 As members of the body of Christ, we are called to keep our lives free from the love of money, and be content with what we have.
R2 Let us break the cycle of greed and live in simplicity.
C Holy Spirit, unite us in action.
R1 As members of the body of Christ, we are called to proclaim release to captives and victims of all forms of violence.
R2 Let us help them to live in dignity.
C Holy Spirit, unite us in action.
R1 As members of the body of Christ, we are called to extend hospitality to strangers.
R2 Let us outdo one another in showing honour.
C Holy Spirit, unite us in action.
R1 As members of the body of Christ, we are called to proclaim the good news to the whole creation.
R2 Let us protect the life and beauty of God’s creation
C Holy Spirit, unite us in action.
L To make concrete our individual commitment to work together for justice, you are invited to write your commitment on two separate cards. We invite you to keep one of these cards close to your heart. The second one will be collected and brought forward as an offering.
(A song for unity and/or justice may be sung as the congregants write their commitments.)
L What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8) We commit ourselves to acts of justice.
(At this point the ushers collect the second card and bring them forward to be put at the foot of the cross.)
L Gracious God,
you have shown us your compassion and care for all creation. Your love inspires us to offer these commitments to act justly by loving others wholeheartedly regardless of their cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. Accept now our offerings and transform them into action for the unity of your Church. We ask this through your Son Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, who live with you as one God forever and ever.
Sharing peace(The leader invites the assembly to exchange a sign of peace, so that together we can proclaim our faith.)
The Nicene Creed
Prayers of the people
L Let us raise to the Lord our common prayer for the Church and for the needs of all humanity.
R From the islands and the oceans,
C O God, hear our prayer and grant us your love.
R We pray for those who live in the midst of injustice.
C O God, hear our prayer and grant us your justice.
R We pray for the visible unity of the Church.
C O God, hear our prayer and grant us passion for unity.
R We thank you for the many colours, cultures, and customs that we share in this world.
In our differences, unite us by your love.
C O God, hear our prayer and grant us your peace.
The Lord's Prayer
L As you leave this gathering you will be given one of the commitment cards. We invite you to pray for the commitment written on the card.
L: May God embrace you with love
(As the congregants leave, the ministers distribute the commitment cards.)
BIBLICAL REFLECTIONS AND
Let justice roll down like waters
Christians can sometimes be very committed to prayer and worship, but less concerned for the poor and the marginalized. Sometimes we pray in church, but at the same time oppress our fellow human beings or exploit the environment. Christians in Indonesia recognize that in their land there are people who passionately try to practise their faith, but who oppress those of other beliefs, even using violence in doing so. But in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus reminds us that the outward sign of true worship of God is acting justly. He is fierce in his condemnation of those who neglect this obligation.
In the prophecy of Amos, God rejects the worship offered by those who neglect justice, until they ‘let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream’ (5:24). The prophet insists on the absolute link between worship and doing deeds of justice. When Christians work together to listen to the cry of the poor and the oppressed, they grow in communion with one another and with the Triune God.
God of the widow, the orphan and the stranger,
Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’
Violence towards fellow humans is not found only in physical assault and robbery, but also in gossip and malicious rumours. Social media have made it easy for untruths to be circulated instantly to a wide audience. Christians in Indonesia are aware of how this has sometimes led to lies and prejudice being propagated by religious groups, including Christians, against other religious groups. Fear and the threat of reprisals can make people reluctant to stand up for the truth and can cause them to remain silent in the face of unjust and untrue statements aimed at causing fear.
Jesus boldly said, ‘Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.’ Deceitfulness destroys good relationships between persons and between groups, including churches. Dishonesty disrupts the unity of the Church. The Letter to the Ephesians reminds us that we are members of one another. This is a call for Christians to be honest and accountable to each other, so that they may grow in fellowship. When we do so, it is not the spirit of the evil one, but the Holy Spirit of God who will be with us.
God of righteousness,
The Lord is gracious and merciful to all
‘The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made’, said the psalmist, proclaiming that the love of God is beyond boundaries of ethnicity, culture, race, and even religion. The account of the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel reflects this expansive vision. While ancient cultures often saw women as inferior, or as the property of their fathers or husbands, Matthew names four women among the ancestors of Jesus, two of whom, Ruth and Rahab, were Gentiles. Three other ancestors in the list were known for their sinfulness, including the adulterous King David. Naming these in the genealogy of Jesus and making them part of God’s human history, proclaims that God includes everyone, male and female, sinner and righteous, in his plan of salvation, regardless of their backgrounds.
Indonesia is a nation of over 17,000 islands and 1,340 different ethnic groups, and churches are often separated along ethnic lines. Such exclusivity can lead some to see themselves as the sole possessors of the truth, thus wounding the unity of the Church. Amidst escalating ethnic and religious fanaticism and a growing spirit of intolerance throughout the world today, Christians can serve the human family by joining together to bear witness to the all-embracing love of God, proclaiming with the psalmist that ‘the Lord is gracious and merciful’ to all.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God,
Be content with what you have
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews warns against excessive love of money and material things. In the face of our tendency to think we never have enough, the text reminds us of God’s providence and assures us that God will never forsake creation. Through the fruitfulness of earth, rivers and seas, God’s goodness has provided ample food and fresh water to sustain all living beings, and yet many people lack these basic necessities. Human weakness and greed frequently lead to corruption, injustice, poverty and hunger. It can be tempting, instead of caring about others and sharing our goods with them, to gather and accumulate money, food and natural resources for ourselves, or our own nation or ethnic group.
Yet, Jesus teaches us that material things should not be our main concern. Rather, we should strive first for the reign of God and its values, trusting that our heavenly Father will provide for us. In recent years, some churches in Indonesia have been providing various kinds of financial, human and educational support to small churches in rural areas. In this simple and practical example of mutual love they are demonstrating the unity with their fellow-Christians which is God’s gift to his Church. Living more simply, not preoccupied with earning money beyond our needs or with hoarding resources for the future, can enable us to make the earth, our common home, a more just place.
To bring good news to the poor
The prophet Amos criticized traders who practiced deceit and exploited the poor in order to gain maximum profit. Amos also underlined how God observes their wrongdoing and will never forget it. God listens to the cries of victims of injustice and never forsakes those who are exploited and treated unjustly.
We live in a globalized world where marginalization, exploitation and injustice are rampant. The gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider. Economic achievement becomes a deciding factor in relationships between peoples, nations and communities. Economic issues often trigger tensions and conflicts between them. It is hard to enjoy peace when justice is absent.
By virtue of our common Baptism, all Christians share in the prophetic mission of Jesus to proclaim good news to the poor and the weak, in both words and deeds. When we recognise this mission, the Spirit of the Lord will be upon us too, empowering us to work for justice. Our dignity as Christians calls us to speak and act in such a way that the words from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah which Jesus proclaimed in Nazareth are fulfilled each day in the hearing of those around us.
God our Father,
The Lord of hosts is his name
The created world is a manifestation of God’s wondrous power. The greatness of God is made visible in and through all creation: ‘The Lord of hosts is his name.’
Today, however, we are facing a serious global ecological crisis, which threatens the survival of the natural world. Many people have been driven by greed to exploit creation beyond its capacity. In the name of development, forests are cleared and pollution destroys land, air, rivers and seas, rendering agriculture impossible, making fresh water unobtainable and causing animals to die. In this context it is useful to remember that after his resurrection, Jesus commissioned the disciples to proclaim the good news ‘to the whole creation’. No part of creation is outside God’s plan to make all things new. And so conversion is needed from a tendency to exploit to an attitude that values and reconciles us with creation.
Movements among people of different faiths in Indonesia and many other places are inspiring Christians to promote eco-friendly churches, and to take a stand against environmental abuses. This unites Christians in bearing witness to their Creator, ‘for he is the one who formed all things’. When we join with other Christians in defence of our common earthly home, we are not just engaging in activism, but are fulfilling the Lord’s command to proclaim the good news of God’s healing and restoring love to all of creation.
Woman, great is your faith!
1 Samuel 1:13-17
Eli misjudges Hannah’s deep and fervent prayer and condemns her, dismissing her supplications as drunken ramblings. Yet the words of her reply, calling on him not to dismiss her as ‘a worthless woman’ softened his heart and he sent her away with a blessing. Likewise, when the Canaanite woman came to beg Jesus to heal her daughter, he initially dismissed her, saying that he had come only for his own people. Yet she persisted in her begging and challenging and eventually, recognising her great faith, Jesus granted her request. In both cases, a woman who was initially marginalised and judged unworthy of attention turned out to be speaking prophetic words that softened hearts and brought healing and wholeness.
The marginalization and dismissing of women’s voices continues in our own times. Indeed even within our churches we are often complicit with cultures that devalue women. As Christians become aware of their own failings in this area, they come to recognize more clearly the horror of violence against women and children, snatched forcibly from their homes and trafficked to other lands. These and many other migrant workers are often treated as less than human, and are denied the most basic human rights. In recent years churches in Indonesia have taken common action against human trafficking and the sexual abuse of children. Their efforts, and those of people of other faiths, are all the more urgent since the number of victims in some parts of their country is increasing daily.
As Christians unite in prayer and study of the Scriptures, truly listening for God’s voice, they can discover that God also speaks today through the cries of the most abused in society. It is when they hear God’s call together that they are inspired to join in common action against the scourge of human trafficking and of other evils.
The Lord is my light and my salvation
Throughout the eight days of this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the daily reflections have considered many difficult situations facing the world today, including greed, violence, exclusion, exploitation, poverty, pollution, hunger and trafficking. Churches in Indonesia are conscious of these issues as challenges facing all Christians. They recognise and confess that some of these sins have tainted the lives of their churches too, wounding their unity and diminishing their witness to the world. At the same time, they recognise as well the many promising instances of churches coming together to witness to their unity in Christ. Christians in other parts of the world can name many other examples from their own situations.
Day by day, year by year, and especially during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Christians join together for common prayer, professing their common baptismal faith, listening for God’s voice in the Scriptures and praying together for unity in Christ’s body. In doing so, they recognise that the Holy Trinity is the source of all unity and that Jesus is the light of the world, who promises the light of life to those who follow him. The many injustices in the world frequently sadden or anger them. But they do not lose hope, they move to action. Because the Lord is their light and their salvation and the stronghold of their lives, they do not fear.
God our Sustainer,
THE ECUMENICAL SITUATION IN INDONESIA*
Indonesia is a pluralistic society, a home for people of many tribes, languages, cultures and religions. Out of 265 million people, around 12% are Catholics and Protestants. Christianity first came to Indonesia as early as the seventh century, brought by the Nestorians to North Sumatra; however, it did not survive. The gospel was next brought by Catholic missionaries who followed in the wake of Portuguese merchants in the early 16th century. These included the Jesuit St Francis Xavier, who worked in the Maluku islands from 1546-1547. The first baptism was in Mamuya, Halmahera, in 1534. In 1605 the Dutch, under the flag of a trading company called the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC, the Dutch East India Company), expelled the Portuguese from Indonesia. With the arrival of these Dutch merchants, Protestantism was introduced in Indonesia and Catholics were forced to convert to Protestantism.
The VOC was originally interested in obtaining spices that were mostly produced in the eastern part of Indonesia. In the following years, the VOC also represented the Dutch colonial government and introduced the Calvinistic Protestantism practiced by the churches in the Netherlands in the 17th century. The Reformed Church was the official state church, and as such had special privileges.
Later missionaries who came to Indonesia, mostly from the Netherlands and Germany, confined themselves to working with a particular tribe. As the result, Christian divisions tend to follow tribal boundaries. Most Christian communities used the language of the tribe in worship, but gradually they also adopted Bahasa Indonesia, the national language. With the coming of Revival Evangelical Christianity and the Charismatic Movement to Indonesia in the last century and, more recently, the arrival of Orthodox Christianity, the churches in Indonesia present a wide panoply of Christian traditions, which includes Catholicism, Lutheranism, Reformed, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Charismatic, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, Salvation Army, and Orthodox.
In various ways these churches work together through different platforms to address issues related to the unity of the Church as well as common concerns in society, at local, regional and national levels. Women of different Christian communities in the Kebayoran area of Jakarta, for instance, work together to provide very cheap lunch packs to the becak (rickshaw) drivers, low income families, and the homeless. They have regular fellowship meetings, and together with other women’s groups in different places, observe the World Day of Prayer annually to pray for peace and justice in the community.
The Communion of Churches in Indonesia
Persekutuan Gereja-gereja di Indonesia (PGI), the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, is a fellowship of the Protestant churches in Indonesia. It was founded as Dewan Gereja-gereja di Indonesia (DGI), the Council of Churches in Indonesia, on May 25, 1950 with the aim of uniting the churches in Indonesia. Even before World War II the idea of having a council of churches had long been dreamt of, especially with the task of coordinating the works of various mission organizations in Indonesia. Inspired by the independence of the nation in 1945, the churches in many parts of the country felt the need to express their unity. In its 10th General Assembly in Ambon in 1980, the DGI changed its name to Persekutuan Gereja-gereja di Indonesia (PGI). The members of the Council came to the point that, after working together for some years, they needed to deepen and strengthen their fellowship and move beyond organizational matters into a common commitment as a communion of churches, working together in concrete ways to promote the unity of the Church and to proclaim the gospel in the context of a pluralistic Indonesian society.
It was during this 1980 Assembly that the PGI produced “Five Documents of Church Unity”, which consists of: (1) Common Calling of the Churches in Indonesia, (2) Common Understanding of Christian Faith, (3) Common Recognition and Acceptance among the Churches in Indonesia, (4) By Laws, (5) Towards Self-Reliance in Theology, Resources and Finance of the Churches in Indonesia. These documents reflect the theological and ecclesiological understanding of the member churches in the light of their common striving towards Church unity, manifested in concrete programs for renewing, developing and uniting the churches. These documents are always reviewed by the General Assembly of PGI which is held every five years. The 13th PGI General Assembly in 2000 decided to move forward to accept these five documents as the one unifying document and called it: “Dokumen Keesaan Gereja” (DKG) - Document of Church Unity. It is expected that this document will function as the main reference point for the PGI members as they work together for the unity of the churches and for a common Christian witness in Indonesia. At this moment, PGI has 89 member churches, including Pentecostal, Evangelical and Charismatic churches. There are also provincial PGIs which include smaller and regionally based churches.
From time to time the PGI issues relevant public statements or sends letters to the government of the Republic of Indonesia in response to certain critical issues in society, including the implementation of religious freedom and advocacy for justice and peace, especially for those who are marginalized. Similarly, the PGI sends pastoral letters to its member churches addressing critical issues in Indonesia, such as freedom of religion, corruption, human rights violations, violence, child protection, etc. The 16th General Assembly of PGI in 2014 was held under the theme “God bring us up from the depth of the Ocean (Psalm 71:20): In solidarity with all the children of the nation, we together implement the values of Pancasila to overcome poverty, injustice, radicalism and environmental destruction”. The theme guided the works of PGI and its members specifically for the period of 2014-2019. The PGI member churches share the conviction that greed is the root cause of the four different but interrelated issues above. Therefore PGI promotes the so-called “spiritualitas keugaharian” or “spirituality of moderation.”
Catholicism in Indonesia and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference
Despite early missionary successes in the 16th century, Catholicism was suppressed under Dutch rule until 1807, when political events in Europe again allowed Catholics freedom of worship. Roman Catholicism thus existed only in restricted pockets until the second half of the 19th century and the 20th century when new missionary efforts established schools, seminaries and new worshipping communities. The first indigenous Indonesian priests were ordained in the 1920s, and one of these priests, Fr Albertus Soegijapranata SJ, became the first indigenous bishop in 1940. Something of a national hero because of his support for Indonesian independence, he is remembered for his slogan, “100% Catholic, 100% Indonesian”.
The Indonesian Catholic Bishops’ Conference was first formed in the 1920s and then reconstituted in the 1950s to include bishops from all parts of the newly independent country. Since 1987 it has been called the Konferensi Waligereja Indonesia (KWI). The long existence of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference enabled its bishops to make key interventions during the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), which they did, particularly with reference to the Council’s document on Revelation. It is worth noting that the first of these interventions, made by Archbishop Gabriel Manek of Endeh, Timor, opposed the first proposed draft De fontibus on the grounds that it would be a source of obstacles in the Church’s dialogue with other Christians. From 1962, therefore, one can see that the Indonesian Catholic bishops were committed to the ecumenical project.
Cooperation of PGI and KWI
For many years, PGI and KWI have worked in close cooperation, particularly in addressing issues of common concern in the country. Since 1980, PGI and KWI have issued a joint Christmas message annually, mostly addressing national issues in the light of the Christmas gospels. This message is read in parishes of both Catholic and Protestant churches. Gradually, the theme of the annual PGI-KWI Christmas message has been adopted nationally. One of the issues regularly addressed by both bodies is related to the implementation of religious freedom for all citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia. Whenever needed, PGI and KWI issue public statements relating to emerging issues in society which threaten justice and peace in the community and the welfare of the people.
Churches in Indonesia are aware of the importance of building and strengthening relationships with people of different faiths. PGI and KWI are very much involved in interfaith dialogue and cooperation. Both bodies have actively participated in the joint collaboration of different faith organizations in Indonesia which recognises six official religions, namely: Islam, Protestant Christianity, Catholic Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism. Faith leaders from these religions meet from time to time to discuss some crucial issues and often release joint statements regarding particular concerns. At the local level, many congregations and parishes related to PGI and KWI are also actively involved in interreligious dialogue and concrete actions in the society.
The Indonesia Christian Forum
Indonesian participants attended the first meeting of Global Christian Forum (GCF) in Limuru, Kenya in 2007 and were inspired to strengthen the collaboration among different Christian traditions in the country. In 2012, the second GCF meeting was held in Manado, Indonesia. During that event, the Christian leaders representing various traditions in Indonesia launched Forum Umat Kristen Indonesia (FUKRI), the Indonesian Christian Forum. Members of this forum participated actively in the Celebration of Christian Unity held in Senayan Stadium in Jakarta in 2013, which was a special event welcoming the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Busan, South Korea. The meeting was attended by the General Secretary of the WCC, Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, and the local organizing committee of the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, South Korea.
Since then, the members of FUKRI, which consists of: the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI), the Catholic Bishops’ Conference (KWI), the Fellowship of the Evangelical Churches and Institutions in Indonesia (PGLII), the Fellowship of Pentecostal Churches in Indonesia (PGPI), the Fellowship of Baptist Churches in Indonesia, the Salvation Army, the Seventh Day Adventist, and the Orthodox Church, meet regularly every month. Initially meeting solely to build fraternity, over time their discussions have deepened to focus on the place of Christians in Indonesia’s pluralistic and rapidly changing society. Together with the National Prayer Network, FUKRI has organized prayer events focusing on challenging issues in society and in the life of the nation. FUKRI also jointly commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Recently, FUKRI discussed the document issued by the WCC, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Evangelical Alliance on “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendation for Conduct”. FUKRI members appreciated this ecumenical document as a valuable guide to the churches in Indonesia as they give witness in the context of a pluralistic society. FUKRI committed to share this document to its respective constituencies for further study.
WEEK OF PRAYER
Materials jointly prepared by the WCC Faith and Order Commission
1968 To the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:14)
1969 Called to freedom (Galatians 5:13)
1970 We are fellow workers for God (1 Corinthians 3:9)
1971 ...and the communion of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:13)
1972 I give you a new commandment (John 13:34)
1973 Lord, teach us to pray (Luke 11:1)
1974 That every tongue confess: Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:1-13)
1975 God’s purpose: all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-10)
1976 We shall be like him (1 John 3:2) or, Called to become what we are
1977 Enduring together in hope (Romans 5:1-5)
1978 No longer strangers (Ephesians 2:13-22)
1979 Serve one another to the glory of God (l Peter 4:7-11)
1980 Your kingdom come (Matthew 6:10)
1981 One Spirit - many gifts - one body (1 Corinthians 12:3b-13)
1982 May all find their home in you, O Lord (Psalm 84)
1983 Jesus Christ - the life of the world (1 John 1:1-4)
1984 Called to be one through the cross of our Lord (1 Corinthians 2:2 and
1985 From death to life with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-7)
1986 You shall be my witnesses (Acts 1:6-8)
1987 United in Christ - a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17-6:4a)
1988 The love of God casts out fear (1 John 4:18)
1989 Building community: one body in Christ (Romans 12:5-6a)
1990 That they all may be one...That the world may believe (John 17)
1991 Praise the Lord, all you nations! (Psalm 117 and Romans 15:5-13)
1992 I am with you always... Go, therefore (Matthew 28:16-20)
1993 Bearing the fruit of the Spirit for Christian unity (Galatians 5:22-23)
1994 The household of God: called to be one in heart and mind (Acts 4:23-37)
1995 Koinonia: communion in God and with one another (John 15:1-17)
1996 Behold, I stand at the door and knock (Revelation 3:14-22)
1997 We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians
1998 The Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:14-27)
1999 He will dwell with them as their God, they will be his peoples
2000 Blessed be God who has blessed us in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14)
2001 I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life (John 14:1-6)
2002 For with you is the fountain of life (Psalm 36:5-9)
2003 We have this treasure in clay jars (2 Corinthians 4:4-18)
2004 My peace I give to you (John 14:23-31; John 14:27)
2005 Christ, the one foundation of the church (1 Corinthians 3:1-23)
2006 Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them
2007 He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak (Mark 7:31-37)
2008 Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:(12a) 13b-18)
2009 That they may become one in your hand (Ezekiel 37:15-28)
2010 You are witnesses of these things (Luke 24:48)
2011 One in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer
(cf. Acts 2:42)
2012 We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 1
2013 What does God require of us? (cf. Micah 6:6-8)
2014 Has Christ been divided? (1 Corinthians 1:1-17)
2015 Jesus said to her: Give me to drink (John 4: 7)
2016 Called to proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord (cf. 1 Peter 2:9)
2017 Reconcilation - The love of Christ compels us (2 Cor 5:14-20)
2018 Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power (Ex 15:6)
2019 Justice and only justice you shall pursue (Deut
KEY DATES IN THE HISTORY
1740 In Scotland a Pentecostal movement arose, with North American
1820 The Rev. James Haldane Stewart publishes “Hints for the General Union of Christians for the Outpouring of the Spirit”.
1840 The Rev. Ignatius Spencer, a convert to Roman Catholicism, suggests a “Union of Prayer for Unity”.
1867 The First Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops emphasizes prayer for unity in the Preamble to its Resolutions.
1894 Pope Leo XIII encourages the practice of a Prayer Octave for Unity in the context of Pentecost.
1908 First observance of the “Church Unity Octave” initiated by the Rev. Paul Wattson.
1926 The Faith and Order movement begins publishing “Suggestions for an Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity”.
1935 Abbé Paul Couturier of France advocates the “Universal Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” on the inclusive basis of prayer for “the unity Christ wills by the means he wills”.
1958 Unité Chrétienne (Lyons, France) and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches begin co-operative preparation of materials for the Week of Prayer.
1964 In Jerusalem, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I prayed together Jesus’ prayer “that they all may be one” (John 17).
1964 The Decree on Ecumenism of Vatican II emphasizes that prayer is the soul of the ecumenical movement and encourages observance of the Week of Prayer.
1966 The Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches and the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity [now known as the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity] begin official joint preparation of the Week of Prayer material.
1968 First official use of Week of Prayer material prepared jointly by Faith and Order and the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity.
1975 First use of Week of Prayer material based on a draft text prepared by a local ecumenical group. An Australian group was the first to take up this plan in preparing the 1975 initial draft.
1988 Week of Prayer materials were used in the inaugural worship for The Christian Federation of Malaysia, which links the major Christian groupings in that country.
1994 International group preparing text for 1996 included representatives from YMCA and YWCA.
2004 Agreement reached that resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity be jointly published and produced in the same format by Faith and Order (WCC) and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (Catholic Church).
2008 Commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. (Its predecessor, the Church Unity Octave, was first observed in 1908).
 The five principles of Pancasila are (1) Belief in the one and only God, (2) Just and civilized humanity, (3) The unity of Indonesia, (4) Democracy guided by the inner wisdom in the unanimity arising out of deliberations amongst representatives, (5) Social justice for all People of Indonesia.
Cf. The Ecumenical Situation in Indonesia.
* This text is reproduced under the sole authority and responsibility of the ecumenical group in Indonesia which came together to write the source texts for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2019.