September 17-23, 2012
General Assembly News
PCT bonds with pastors from Chinese churches in Indonesia at pastors & elders retreat in Indonesia
Reported by Lin Yi-ying
Written by Lydia Ma
About 170 pastors and elders from Presbyterian churches in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Hong Kong took part in the 5th Motivational Camp for Pastors and Elders held at Seruni Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, from September 4-10, 2012. A total of 45 pastors and elders from the PCT attended this event – a record-breaking number compared to previous years. The fact that all of the participants at this camp were pastors or elders from a local Presbyterian church in their own countries made the camp especially meaningful because participants could easily exchange ideas and share about their experiences in a deeper and more relevant manner.
This motivational camp is a biennial event and it was the Presbyterian church in Malaysia’s turn to organize it this year. However, Indonesia was selected as the location to hold this event this year because of financial considerations and to help pastors from Chinese Presbyterian churches in Indonesia to attend. This camp lasted 7 days and featured various keynote speakers. They all spoke on various theological issues and disciplines. Following these presentations, pastors and elders given a lot of time to discuss common issues in small groups. Participants also visited local Indonesian churches during this retreat.
PCT Evangelism Committee Secretary Tsai Nan-hsin commented that leaders from Presbyterian churches in these countries are realizing that the structural organization of their churches and the way fellowship and worship meetings are being held have slowly departed from the Reformed tradition. For this reason, more training is necessary and such an opportunity to get together and share experiences might be what’s needed to stay on course and increase the amount of fellowship between Presbyterian churches in Asia.
Tsai reported that pastors from the Chinese churches in Indonesia approached the PCT during this retreat to enquire about sending PCT pastors to Indonesia to serve because local Chinese churches there are in need of pastors. Indonesian Chinese churches also hope to send their youths to Taiwan to study in PCT’s seminaries. They added that Indonesian youths from Chinese descent are usually fluent in Mandarin and Taiwanese. Because of this shared language, Chinese churches in Indonesia hope that the PCT can help out by sharing its resources, especially by sending pastors to Indonesia to help struggling churches.
Tsai said both Presbyterian churches must first become partner churches by signing a partnership agreement. For the time being, the PCT’s short-term goal is to encourage retired pastors to go to Indonesia for missions. Once this has taken place, both churches can move on to long-term goals such as sending Indonesian youths to Taiwan to study in PCT seminaries and send PCT missionaries to Indonesia. Ultimately, exchanges will be handled through the general assemblies of both churches once agreements on mission exchanges have been signed.
One pastor from Changhua Presbytery noted that Taiwan also needs Indonesian churches to send some pastors over to Taiwan because there are many Indonesian people working in Taiwan and many Indonesian women have also married into Taiwanese families in recent years. All of these people now reside permanently in Taiwan and they need to be shepherded as well.
Photo provided by Tsai Nan-hsin