John D. Roth, ISGA publishes new history of Indonesian Anabaptists and travel guide

The Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism (ISGA) director John D. Roth has published a new book, titled “A Cloud of Witnesses: Celebrating Indonesian Mennonites,”detailing the history of three streams of Anabaptist-Mennonite church groups in Indonesia, tracing the 170-year history of Mennonites in Indonesia alongside the larger cultural and religious history of the country. By placing the legacy of European colonization from the sixteenth century to national independence in 1945 beside the history of the Dutch Mennonite mission to Indonesia in the nineteenth century, Roth creates a rich narrative tapestry.

A Cloud of Witnesses traces the emergence of the three Mennonite-related groups found today in Indonesia. Like all churches, they have each integrated the good news of the gospel with the local culture, ethnic identity, religious currents, and national history in a distinctive way.
In July 2022, these three Mennonite groups in Indonesia will collaboratively host the seventeenth global assembly of Mennonite World Conference in Semarang, Java.

A Cloud of Witnesses helps to orient other members of the global Anabaptist-Mennonite church to the history and identity of this unique group of churches while also providing practical travel tips, recipes, reference notes on culture and language and tourist sites—making it the perfect accompaniment for those who plan to travel to Indonesia for Mennonite World Conference in the summer of 2022.

Praise for A Cloud of Witnesses

“A Cloud of Witnesses: Celebrating Indonesian Mennonites” has already received enthusiastic praise from scholars and from Indonesian church leaders.

“A Cloud of Witnesses is a rich, informative, crunchy, and tasty glimpse into Indonesian Anabaptist-Mennonite churches—GITJ, GKMI, JKI— written in a broader Anabaptist-Mennonite history. This book is written with a passion for and dedication to Christ and reflects a commitment to the global Anabaptist family through Mennonite World Conference,” writes Rev. Andios Santoso, former general secretary of GKMI (2014-2019) and member of the Mission Commission of Mennonite World Conference (MWC).

Initiated in the mid-nineteenth century, these three church groups represent the oldest Mennonite faith communities in the world outside of Europe North America. The book weaves together stories of Indonesian history, Dutch missionary work in Java, and the indigenous Christian movements that sprang to life in the midst of this. The three MWC-related synods that are currently active in Indonesia will co-sponsor the upcoming MWC global assembly scheduled to take place in Semarang, Central Java, in July of 2022. These groups include the Gereja Injili di Tanah Jawa (GITJ), the earliest Javanese group; the Persatuan Gereja-Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia (GKMI), a group that arose among Indonesians of Chinese descent; and the Sinode Jemaat Kristen Indonesia (JKI), a newer, more charismatic group that has expanded to Australia and the USA.

Danang Kristiawan, a GITJ pastor from Jepara, who also teaches at the Wiyata Wacana Seminary in Pati, writes, “This book successfully describes the Mennonite community in Indonesia that grew up in three different conferences, each of which has a unique culture and background. It tells us not only about the past, but also about struggles in the current Indonesian context. This book helps readers ‘taste’ the flavor of Mennonites in Indonesia.”

This book arrives just in time to engage travelers from all over the world in the history of the Indonesian Mennonite church as they prepare to attend the 17th MWC global assembly. In addition to its rich historical content, A Cloud of Witnesses also includes travel tips, notes on culture, language, and tourist sites, and even several recipes. MCUSA conference minister Steve Kriss calls A Cloud of Witnesses an “excellent preparation for those anticipating the upcoming Mennonite World Conference assembly in 2022, whether attending face-to-face or virtually.”

The book is available to purchase online through Amazon or MennoMedia.