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Orthodoxy in Indonesia

This article seeks to be a clearinghouse of information and links regarding the history and state of Orthodox Christianity in Indonesia.

Indonesia is the largest country in the South East Asian region. The vast territory of the nation, combined with the diversity of culture and resources present in the islands, offer an interesting story regarding to the growth of Orthodoxy there. Orthodoxy in Indonesia have existed for centuries, but a consistent and permanent existence of Orthodoxy have only fairly recently developed.


According to Fr. Daniel Byantoro, the founder of modern Indonesian Orthodoxy, the earliest records of Orthodoxy can be traced to the 7th century. At that time, the island of Sumatra was dominated by the Hindu-Buddhist Srivijaya Empire. There were accounts of a Nestorian Church (as of now, it was still debatable whether the church was an Oriental Orthodox or an Assyrian Church of the East) somewhere in northern Sumatra. They were served by priests originating from the Middle East. However, with the rise of Islam, the priests in Sumatra were recalled, and the people there were left alone. Over the next centuries, when the first European travellers arrived in North Sumatra, they were surprised to see a church very similar to Roman Catholicism, and decided to convert the people there into Roman Catholics. There are no known records of the remains of this church.

Fast forwards to a few centuries later, Indonesia, at that time called the Dutch East Indies, is a predominantly Muslim colony of the Netherlands. The small subset of Christians consider themselves to be mostly Roman Catholic and Calvinists, a testament of their colonial overlord's influence there.


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