The Mission of the Rhenish Missionary Society in Sumatra in Colonial Discourse

Weiße Kirche vor Meerlandschaft Sumatra

Indonesia, the archipelago including more than 17,000 islands, is geographically, linguistically, ethnically and religiously characterized by great heterogeneity. Today, around 207 million people - and thus around 87% of the total population – confess to Islam, leaving Christianity as the largest and most influential religious minority.

In the area of North Sumatra respectively in the Toba-Batak region, where above all the Rhenish Missionary Society (RMG) was active during the colonial period (while Indonesia was under Dutch rule), one finds a reversal of this relation – about 85% of the Batak today confess to (Protestant) Christianity.

Mainly focusing on more well-known mission areas of the RMG in Africa and Papua New Guinea, there is a fundamental research desideratum in the recent research literature regarding the history of the RMG in Sumatra, especially in respect of a comprehensive post-colonial and global-historical analysis from the perspective of academic studies of religion.

This project wants to close this research desideratum by investigating the history of the Rhenish Missionary Society in Sumatra/ Batakland, beginning with the start of the mission in 1861 till the establishment of the Huria Kristen Batak Protestan.

Principal researcher:
Lara Lindhorst