Original Research

Sailing through the waves: Ecclesiological experiences of the Gereja Protestan Maluku archipelago congregations in Maluku

Steve G.C. Gaspersz, Nancy N. Souisa
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6861 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6861 | © 2021 Steve G.C. Gaspersz, Nancy N. Souisa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 May 2021 | Published: 29 October 2021

About the author(s)

Steve G.C. Gaspersz, Department of Theology, Faculty of Theology, Indonesian Maluku Christian University, Ambon, Indonesia
Nancy N. Souisa, Department of Theology, Faculty of Theology, Indonesian Maluku Christian University, Ambon, Indonesia

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The archipelago context of Maluku represents the living dynamics of Christian communities in that area, which becomes an ecclesiological foundation of the Gereja Protestan Maluku (GPM). Christianity, the embryo of the GPM, is the fruit of the evangelical works by European missionaries, particularly Dutch missions from the 18th century onwards. The Dutch-type Christianity had been adapted into models so that the form of institution and Protestant teachings in Maluku moved dynamically following socio-political and cultural changes along with the colonial and the post-colonial history of Indonesian and Malukan society. It attempts to describe the manifestation of the Calvinism-model of Christianity that is continuously being contextualised through absorbing various elements of worldview, tradition, and the religiosity of the archipelago society. Cultural hermeneutics is used to interpret the socio-cultural phenomena in which the church lives in and to construct its theological understanding about Christian identity. The ecclesiological construction of GPM, in turn, is structured by plural social orders. The reality also influences the perspective about GPM from many different worldviews of the Malukan archipelago society. The contextual ecclesiological perspective, therefore, is constructed based on intermingled understandings that theology of the church can only be built by considering multifold dimensions of a particular society. The result of this research pertains to the constructive understanding of a specific ecclesial context of the GPM in their struggles for theologising their existence as God’s people and, at the same time, as an integral part of certain society in Maluku and Indonesia.

Contribution: As the living contextual church that struggles for proclaiming God’s love, the GPM has a theological responsibility to conduct its church mission based on its ecclesiological understanding and practices contextually. The article contributes to the enrichment of the theological discourse on the crucial roles of a church in Maluku, in the eastern part of Indonesia.


contextual ecclesiology; political identity; archipelago congregations; maritime culture; public theology


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