Indonesia Church Records

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For information about records for non-Christian religions in Indonesia, go to the Religious Records page.

Online Resources and Websites[edit | edit source]

Church records (Daftar gerja)[edit | edit source]

These records contain information on births or baptisms, marriages, marriage proclamations, deaths or burials, confirmations, church censuses and memberships. Usually the information given is quite complete and identifies parents and often grandparents and other relationships. There are gaps, however, in many parish registers. Earliest records exist from 1579. Records are generally located in Diocese and parish archives or at the local church.

The Indonesian constitution guarantees religious freedom. There are six officially recognized religions in Indonesia: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism, and many more unofficial religions. During the VOC era, the number of Roman Catholicism practitioners fell significantly, due to VOC policy of banning the religion. After the VOC collapsed and with the legalization of Catholicism in the Netherlands starting around 1800, Dutch Catholic clergy predominated until after Indonesia's independence.[1]

Catholicism[edit | edit source]

As of 2010, 3% of Indonesians are Catholics, nearly half the number of Protestants at 7%.[1] The practitioners mostly live in West Kalimantan, Papua and East Nusa Tenggara. The province of East Nusa Tenggara, where the island of Flores and West Timor are located, is the only province in Indonesia where Catholics are the majority (about 54.14% of the total population). In Java, next to Javanese, Catholicism also spread to Chinese Indonesians.

Catholicism arrived in the archipelago during the Portuguese arrival with spice-trading over the 14th and 15th century. Many Portuguese had the goal of spreading Roman Catholicism, starting with the Maluku Islands) in 1534. Between 1546 and 1547, the pioneer Christian missionary, Saint Francis Xavier, visited the islands and baptized several thousand locals.[2]

Protestant Churches[edit | edit source]

Protestants form a significant minority in some parts of the country. Statistically, 7% of the total population declared themselves Protestant in a 2010 census. Seventeen per cent of the population in Sulawesi are Protestants, particularly in Tana Toraja regency in South Sulawesi province and Central Sulawesi. Furthermore, up to 65% of the ethnic Torajans are Protestants. The Batak people from North Sumatra is also one of the major Protestant groups in Indonesia, comprising around 65% out of all ethnic population. Christianity was brought by German Lutheran missionary Ludwig Ingwer Nommensen who is known as the apostle to the Batak people and started the Batak Christian Protestant Church (Huria Kristen Batak Protestan).

Chinese Indonesians are also a significant part of the Protestant population, scattered throughout Indonesia with the majority concentrated in major urban areas. In 2000, approximately 35% of ethnic Chinese were Christian, and there is a continuous increase among the younger generation. In some parts of the country, entire villages belong to a distinct denomination, such as Adventism, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, Lutheran, Presbyterian or the Salvation Army (Bala Keselamatan) depending on the success of missionary activity.

Indonesia has three Protestant-majority provinces, West Papua, Papua, and North Sulawesi, with 60%, 68% and 64% of the total population respectively. In Papua, it is most widely practiced among the native Papuan population. In North Sulawesi, the Minahasan population centred around Manado converted to Christianity in the 19th century. Today, most of the population native to North Sulawesi practice some form of Protestantism, while transmigrants from Java and Madura practice Islam. Adherents of Protestantism mostly live in North Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, South Sulawesi, West Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, North Sulawesi, East Nusa Tenggara, North Maluku, Maluku (province), West Papua (province), Papua (province).[3]

Beginning Dates[edit | edit source]

Religious Denomination Begin
Roman Catholic 1579
Dutch Reformed 1595
Indonesian Christian Church 1844
German Lutheran 1861
Baptist 1900
Methodist 1900
Protestant Episcopal 1901

Record Content[edit | edit source]

Baptismal records

  • Baptism dates
  • Children’s names
  • Parents’ residence and names
  • Witnesses’ and godparents’ names
  • Sometimes grandparents’ names

Marriage records

  • Candidates’ names
  • Marriage and/or proclamation dates
  • Often birth places
  • Residence
  • Witnesses
  • Former spouses
  • Parents’ names.

Death/burial records

  • Name of deceased
  • Burial date
  • Age and cause of death
  • Residence
  • Spouse’s name, especially for women
  • Parents’ names for deceased children

Confirmation records

  • Candidates name
  • Age
  • Residence
  • Father’s name

Church censuses & membership lists

  • Names of married couples
  • Their ages or birth dates and places
  • Sometimes marriage dates
  • Childrens’ names, ages or birth dates
  • Death or burial dates of children
  • Sometimes marriage dates and names of spouses of children are given

How to Find Records[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in Indonesia", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 31 March 2020.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in Indonesia", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 31 March 2020.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in Indonesia", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 31 March 2020.

References[edit | edit source]