19 Juli 2009

Oase visit to Tentena (GKST, June 2009)

GKST (Christian Church in Central Sulawesi) is one of the region-based church in Indonesia. So far she is faithful as the church in Central Sulawesi, inspite of some congregations are across the border in South Sulawesi, among the Pamona villages. GKST can be consider as church of ethnics Pamona, Mori, Lore and Wana. They are commonly called Poso people. Founded in 1947, her history is of mission works by the Dutch missionaries of NZG, initiated by A.C. Kruyt (since 1892) and N. Adriani (joined in 1895) of the Dutch Bible Society. GKST consists of 427 congregations in 26 classis. They are served by 624 ministers. There is no data of church membership, but it was estimated about three to four hundred thousand souls. The church belong to a major Protestant church in Indonesia, but the leadership of the church does not well developed. In terms of human resources, compare to other rural churches like of the Torajan and of the Bataks, GKST was lagging far behind.

Most of GKST congregations are rural. Only some congregations in some towns like Palu, Poso, and Tentena can be considered as urban. Some places are transmigration settlements. In the last decades there are massive timber logging in the area. Then palm oil plantations of big companies, and migrants people aggressively conversed forest to cacao farmings. They caused ecological disasters of floods and land slides. The Poso tragedy of Muslims- Christians conflict of 1999-2007 deeply affected the life of the Christian community. Relation of both communities now is better.

As common among the mission works in Indonesia, modern education was also introduced to Poso people. A teacher school was open in Pendolo (later moved to Tentena) in 1938. Both situated in the beautiful Poso lake. Eventually, in 1946, the school divided into two programs of school teacher and of local missionaries education. This missionaries education was later in 1953 became a theological school (in 1980s became STT GKST Tentena).
There are some 80s students of both theology and Christian education departments. But they also engeged in an upgrading program for some 50 Christian education teachers in a distant class arrangement. Number of full time faculty are 10 (4 women); most of them holder of magister theology degree. They are helped by 9 part-time faculty. There is also a post-graduate study. The campus consists of some relatively good and well maintenanced buildings, but poor library holdings and without information technology facilities.

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