First of all, I would like to grateful for this opportunity to share my ideas in this seminar. I think it is an important forum for church historians in Holland as well as in Indonesia. Not only to share analytical and historical researches in each of our context but also we should examine some historical methods were applied in our theological schools.
Second, the examination of method of historical research critically and continuously among church historians, especially in Ambon, recently become important and urgent. As you know that approximately for five years churches in Maluku faced seriously socio-religious conflict since January 19, 1999. Relation between two religions (Islam and Christianity) destructed by political incitement resulted on such “civil war”. Many people died and main public infrastructures, like government offices, churches, mosques, etc., disordered. The GPM (Protestant Church in Maluku) has lost its klasis or church district (12 from 25) and jemaat or congregation (more than 100 from 725). Today most IDPs (internally displaced peoples) went back to their homeland, but still many denied to go back and decided to live in relocation areas.
Third, historical study comprehensively in Maluku driven by some geographic changes deal with replacing of congregations lived in certain area nearby Muslim’s villages. During the conflict, their lands were takes over illegally and they were expelled by force. While today some congregations could not reclaim their lands since they lost many documents and land certificates. They lost their history and uprooted from their original lands. Institutionally GPM is wrestling to search and regain the history of lost congregations as a strategy to bring their rights back legally as citizen of Indonesia.
Fourth, document of GPM’s strategic plan 1995-2005 decided and recommended to do congregational study (by research) in all GPM’s congregation. Such historical research aims to provide accurate data of each congregation in order to observe development of the church that is necessary facing social changes in Maluku.
These four points shows that archive study of church history is an important part not only to learn what happened in the past time but also to reconstruct socio-cultural realities today, especially within society under drastic social changes as social conflict in Maluku islands.In my view, this seminar is an opportunity to re-open access for archive study comprehensively aims to offer historical learning for public domain widely. Also, it is a triggering element for GPM to rethink the significance of “department of history” within its structure, which formally conducting historical researches and collecting historical documents (archives) in systematic ways about its congregations in Maluku. Church history, therefore, is not simply focuses on development and life of Christians (or congregations) in the past, but hold a vital role for directing social changes today and planning strategic Christian mission contextually in reality of multireligious and multicultural societies, primarily in Maluku.