A Deeper Look at the Russian Orthodox Community in Jakarta
Indonesia is a multicultural Southeast Asian country. In Indonesia, ethnic groupings, religions, community organizations, and other factors shape Indonesians' sociocultural lives. Indonesia has six official faiths: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, as well as Aliran Kepercayaan, a covering word for Indonesian folk religions recognized by the Indonesian government. Have you ever thought about the presence of Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Indonesian religious life?
That's how you'll feel if you visit the St. Thomas Orthodox Church (Gereja Ortodoks Santo Thomas Rasul), a Russian Orthodox church that is an autocephalous branch of the Eastern Orthodox Christian church. It is located on Jalan K. H. Mohammad Syafi'i Hadzami No. 1, Jakarta, near to Gandaria City, a well-known mall in South Jakarta. This building's position is partly obscured from view because there is no sign indicating that it is a Christian church.
Before entering the main place of worship, you will see a baptismal font, which is usually found in a Christian church. However, in this church, we will see a baptismal font with a carpet hanging with Arabic inscriptions. It reads, ابانا (Ābānā) or Our Father in Arabic. As it turned out, this carpet was an ornament and Arabic calligraphy of the Our Father's Prayer was chosen as the ornament, as explained by Fransiskus Asissi Eko Sugiono, a young Eastern Orthodox activist in Indonesia.
At the entry, you will be given a veil to wear next to the door. The veil is an essential feature of Eastern Orthodox women's devotion. The Orthodox veiling custom, according to Daud Alexander Fujisaki, a young Eastern Orthodox activist, is a type of adherence to what the Bible commands.
In the building of worship, you will be treated to a golden and full view of the Eastern Orthodox iconostasis, which clearly gives a majestic impression and reminds us of the sights of Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Russia, the place of origin of this Christian sect. Some of the existing Eastern Orthodox icons were imported directly from Russia.
Eastern Orthodox church services are frequently held in this structure. In terms of worship, Orthodox Christians vary from Indonesia's mainstream Christianity, Protestantism and Catholicism. Apart from worship events, here is where many academics or members of other religions come to remain in contact, experience firsthand the lives of Orthodox Christians in Indonesia, or inquire about academic study resources for theology students.
According to young Eastern Orthodox congregations, the majority of the congregation in this church, roughly 90% of them, are converts, with the exception of children born to Orthodox Christian parents who converted first. St. Thomas Church's congregation is similarly varied, with members from numerous ethnic groups including Javanese, Chinese, Ambonese, and even Arabs. This is represented in multiple inscriptions on the ceiling encircling the image of Jesus Christ in the congregation's various languages.
Despite their modest population in Indonesia, they live in peace and have no conflicts with other people. Orthodox Christians have succeeded in contributing to Indonesia's diversity.
Source: Personal Documentary
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