Young advocates of peace and justice

Young Lutherans in Indonesia want greater participation and visibility in church life. Photo: LWF/ Fernando Sihotang

(LWI) - Lutheran youth in Indonesia want churches to use the education, creativity and technological aptitude of young people to enhance the work of the church and improve its sustainability.

More than 110 young adults from various churches, universities and professions attending a youth conference organized by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Indonesia National Committee have called for greater participation and visibility in church life, saying they want to be empowered for leadership.

At the 25-28 February meeting in Pematangsiantar, North Sumatra, representatives of the 13 LWF member churches in Indonesia said their involvement in church life was especially important in view of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. The conference theme was “Here I Stand,” one of Martin Luther’s best known phrases.

“Churches do not want to lose the young people, as they have the potential for bringing change in church and society,” said Rev. Basa Hutabarat, executive secretary of the LWF national committee.

This was the first national conference organized by the LWF committee with a focus on youth involvement in the Reformation anniversary. The aim was to explore the anniversary theme “Liberated by God’s Grace” and its sub-themes in the Indonesian context, and to encourage young adults to be advocates for peace and justice.

Rev. Dr Martongo Sitinjak of the Batak Christian Protestant Church explored the theme from a biblical perspective. Dr Asimayanti Siahaan, University of North Sumatra, urged the young people to hold on to their faith and spirituality in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society. Rev. Dr Phillip Baker, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, elaborated on the theme “Here I Stand” in terms of critical action needed in Indonesia.

They identified climate justice as a common issue for advocacy and action under the anniversary sub-theme, “Creation: not for sale.” Large-scale deforestation for commercial palm oil production in Indonesia results in the loss of nearly 1.1m hectares of forest per year, and an increase in CO2 emissions from palm trees, according to the Ministry of Forestry.

The increasing scramble for land directly violates the rights of indigenous people who are forced to give up huge tracts of forests. They are rarely consulted by the local authorities, who invite investors to develop the land. The LWF national committee supports advocacy for indigenous people’s land rights in Indonesia.

There are 6.5 million Lutherans in Indonesia, of whom nearly 25 percent are youth aged 16 to 30.


A contribution by Fernando Sihotang, LWF Indonesia National Committee.