From its inauspicious beginnings as an outpost of the London Missionary Society (LMS) in 1819 it has tenaciously held its privileged position as Indonesia’s first English institution to this day, a sign that God’s purpose is indeed being discharged by its presence, something its clergy, council and congregation are aware of and intensely determined to preserve forever.
The original intention of LMS was however not to establish a church in Jakarta (then known as Batavia) but to use it as a relatively safe staging post for its proposed activities in China, where the ultimate target was the conversion of the untold millions who had not yet heard the Gospel in any form . Indonesia, which was under Dutch colonial administration, already had Dutch missionaries, so was less urgent.
However the staging post became a school and a printing works and eventually a church that catered for the international community, and was for 170 years non-denominational to attract as many believers as possible to its small but much loved church and community. And so it remains today, a beautiful little stone-built church in its own grounds in the centre of Jakarta, with a vicarage and a variety of buildings for Sunday School and to house interns and other activities.
Because during the 1990’s and early 2000’s the expatriate population was mostly located in the south of the city a separate congregation was started in a rented school hall and despite the severe decline in the expat population this still thrives in its very basic surroundings.
To celebrate the 200th anniversary a program of praise and thankfulness has been planned for the whole year with the making of a commemorative plaque for the main church, an updated history of ASACJ, a commemorative song, commemorative merchandise (plates, mugs etc) and a series of special services.
These services, in February and March, include an interfaith service , a joint celebration with the other Christian churches in Jakarta and finally the main service with the Bishop of the Diocese of Singapore, of which ASACJ is a member, and other dignitaries, on 3 March at the Menteng church.