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Archive for January 2011

Memory Eternal: Fr. Seraphim Scheidler, of Indonesia, Australia, and America

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From Hexaemeron:

One of the sweetest men we have ever known, Fr. Seraphim Scheidler, reposed in Our Lord, January 17, 2011. He had struggled with a weak heart condition for many years. We first met him in 2003 at our inaugural icon-painting workshop in Lexington, KY. Father became a regular at the Six Days of Creation workshops, sponsored by Hexaemeron non-profit organization, and led by Ksenia Pokrovsky.

Fr. Seraphim loved the Orthodox mission in Indonesia, which he visited twice in an official capacity. In fact, he was ordained to the sub-diaconate at Holy Apostle Thomas Orthodox Church in Jakarta, February 23, 2006, and was initially assigned to work with Fr. Daniel Byantoro, founder of the Indonesian Orthodox Church. Fr. Seraphim’s poor heart-health held him back from realizing his desire to serve in Indonesia along side Fr. Daniel.

Truly, an un-self-conscience servant of love, Fr. Seraphim’s focus was always on the person before him. What a shining light of kindness he was, he is, even more brightly now! Fr. Seraphim was (and is) loved by everyone who has been blessed to know him. We at Hexameron are honored to be among this blessed company. We will greatly miss him.

Memory Eternal, our dear Father and friend!

From the ROCOR website of the Eastern American and New York Diocese:

On Monday, January 17, Priest Seraphim Scheidler, rector of St. Innocent Mission in Nashville, TN reposed in the Lord. He was 68.

Priest Seraphim Scheidler was born on November 25, 1942 in Vienna. In 2007, he was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood by Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney and Australia (currently First Hierarch of ROCOR). After his ordination, Fr. Seraphim fulfilled his service in the Australian Diocese and frequently visited Indonesia in order to assist the missions of the Church Abroad.

Due to serious illness, Fr. Seraphim moved to Nashville, TN and was transferred to the Eastern American Diocese. With the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion, Fr. Seraphim founded the missionary parish of St. Innocent of Moscow in Nashville.

Fr. Seraphim is survived by his Matushka Margaret, his sons James and Nicholas, and his daughters Tatiana and Mary.

The clergy and faithful of the Eastern American Diocese are asked to remember the newly reposed Priest Seraphim at the divine services and in their private prayers.

Condolences can be sent to Matushka Margaret at:
121 Buffalo Street
Old Hickory, TN 37138

Schedule of Funeral Services

Friday, January 21:
Funeral in St. Ignatius Church in Nashville, TN – 7:00 PM
Panihida – 8:00 PM

Monday, January 24:
Burial Service – 10:30 AM, led by Bishop George of Mayfield at Holy Cross Monastery,
followed by memorial repast at the monastery.

According to the obituary, donations in memory of Fr. Seraphim may be made to Friends of Indonesia. Read more about Fr. Seraphim at Journey To Orthodoxy.


Written by Stephen

January 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Western Rite News from 2010

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What follows is a collection of news from the Orthodox Christian West blog, roughly covering the last year, and from the Forward in Orthodox Faith blog, covering the last couple of months. For a number of news items, I have found further information elsewhere, for which links have been provided below.

Picture is of Heiromonk Aiden Keller, Western Rite Priest at Holy Protection Orthodox Church (ROCOR), Austin, Texas.

From Orthodox Christian West


Father Joshua, with the patronal blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion has received notice that a donation of 48 acres of high desert land located at the foot of the Mazano Mountains (a spur of the Rocky Mountains) due East of Belen, New Mexico has been donated for an Orthodox Western Rite Christian Heremitage.

Furthermore, this project has elicited a pledge of between 30,000 to 50,000 cement blocks along with the donated services of a world-class architect! God bless all who have come forward to help this hermitage to come into existence! Glory to God!

Further information, along with an intriguing and cheap(er) way to build chapels and churches: Oremus


Wednesday 10th November 2010: His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion has received ten former Continuing Anglican Parishes into ROCOR and blessed them to the Western Rite. These parishes and their eighteen clergy bring to seventeen, the number of ROCOR Western Rite institutions in North America (with three more soon to come) and twenty-three Western Rite clergy. The former Continuing Anglican parishes had, for some time been calling themselves Orthodox as they studied the Faith. Their former married bishops are being Ordained as Priests and will function as Archpriests.

Further information: All of Creation Rejoices
Also, the group’s website: The Fraternity of St. Gregory the Great


Saturday 6th November 2010: The Divine Liturgy of the Western Rite (English Liturgy from the Saint Colman Prayer Book) was celebrated at St. Magnus the Martyr church in central London at 11.00 am. It was be followed by a meeting where those clergy and laity interested in Orthodoxy explored the option of Western Rite Orthodoxy. About two dozen were present and from that it is thought two new missions will arise.


Wednesday 7th July 2010: We welcome Saint Thomas mission as a new Western Rite mission of Saint Petroc Monastery. With over a hundred people led by Fr. Janel, we wish this mission the utmost success.


Friday 2nd July 2010: We welcome the new Western Rite ROCOR mission of Saint Anastasia in Davao City in the Philippines. The mission is led by Chrysostom Canezal, and is planning to acquire a house in Davao City for use as the Saint Anastasia Orthodox Centre.


Wednesday 10th March 2010: Philip Pughe-Morgan will chair a meeting of the Saint Nectan Branch of the Saint Eanswythe Mission on Wednesday the 24th of March at 7pm at the South Molton Methodist church hall.


Wednesday 10th March 2010: His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, Primate of ROCOR has issued a proclamation, naming Fr. David (Pierce) of Holyrood Hermitage as Abbot of the Monastery of the Holy Dormition of Our Lady of Mount Royal. The proclamation names Abbot Augustine (Whitfield) as the Abbot Emeritus. Abbot Augustine remains in hospital under ongoing care. Mount Royal was originally received into Orthodoxy in 1962 by Bishop Dositheus.

Further news: Dom Augustine reposed in the Lord on July 4, 2010.


A new West Country branch of the Saint Eanswythe (Western Rite) Mission in England has been formed. Named Saint Nectan for the local fourth century hermit, the branch which covers the Swimbridge, South Molton and Barnstaple area is strictly a study society at the moment – with Mattins of a Sunday morning.

More information about the St. Nectan mission can be found at their website, here.


Agreement has been reached for the Western Rite to be celebrated in the ROCOR cathedral in London on a regular basis, with the lower church as its home.


Metropolitan Hilarion has given verbal permission for the Saint Eanswythe Orthodox Study Society in Bournemouth to become a mission.

More information about St. Eanswythe Mission can be found at their website, here.


FRIDAY the 13th of November. Bishop Jerome reports that the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has decided that all Western Rite throughout the world shall henceforth come under the direct control of Metropolitan Hilarion.

From Forward in Orthodox Faith:
January 11th 2011: From a recent statement by Fr. Michael:

From discussions recently, we understand that the Moscow Patriarchate may be seeing our Western Rite Missions here in England as the first tiny beginnings of a resurgent British Orthodox Church – a western Orthodoxy spread throughout the British Isles and beyond to Europe. That is certainly my hope.

We are not Russians nor Greeks and we do not try to squeeze our people into these foreign national ideas. We are English, Scots, Welsh, Irish – not middle easterners. We have a perfectly viable culture which grew from our Christian beginnings in AD 37. We have a long Orthodox liturgical history and our Christian culture pre-dates that of any currently Orthodox nation. We can build on that – even a thousand years of enforced heresy cannot obliterate our heritage.

For literally a thousand years our ancestors managed to hold a fully Orthodox faith – and develop Liturgy within our culture which expressed that theology – the Western Rite. Here in the British Isles, we developed the Liturgy of Saint John the Divine (the Stowe Missal) which we have in full today. The Liturgy of Saint John the Divine developed into the basis of the Sarum Liturgy – which in turn developed into the Liturgy of 1549. We use both Sarum and a 1549/Sarum derivative as blessed by our Church.

So I ask people to financially and otherwise support our work as we start our first small missions – as Saint Aristibule did in England in AD 37 – missions in north Devon (Saint Nectan) Dorset (Saint Eanswythe) and Holland (Saint Swithbert).

Pray for Fr Gregory (who needs a secular job urgently) and for me (who needs accommodation urgently) as we start this work. Pray for clergy to volunteer and pray for funds to support us.

January 1st 2011: Anglicans in America interested in joining the Orthodox Church as Western Riters may also contact Bishop Jerome at vrevjrs (at) if they wish.

December 16th: Saint Petroc Monastery, through its Saint George Hermitage has launched “Monastery Made” Vestments – dedicated to making quality vestments at lower cost. Monastery Made does not use man-made fabrics, but seeks out lower cost natural material. It can be found on line at

Written by Stephen

January 16, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Why A Chinese Buddhist Became an Orthodox Athonite Monk

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By Fr. Libyos

On my last trip to Mount Athos I visited the Monastery of Simonopetra. It is a majestic monastery and the sky was fully blue. There I met a graceful novice monk from China. In truth, he surprised me by his presence. An Orthodox rason on a Chinese man? I was moved somewhat. I had never seen this before up close, only in pictures of missions. An inheritor of a great cultural tradition and for him to embrace Christianity? My friends and I got curious to ask him about this.

“Brother, how did you, a Chinese man, embrace Orthodox Christian monasticism coming from such a great cultural tradition? Were you a Buddhist?”

“Yes, of course, I was a Buddhist.”

“What won you over to Christianity?”

“Divine companionship!”

“Excuse me?”

“Yes, yes, Father, hahahahaha!”, he laughed, since with every three words the Chinese seem to laugh at two. “In Buddhism, my Father, you are very very much alone. There is no God. Your entire struggle is with yourself. You are alone with yourself, with your ego. You are totally alone in this path. Great loneliness Father. But here you have an assistant, a companion and a fellow-traveler in God. You are not alone. You have someone who loves you, who cares about you. He cares even if you don’t understand Him. You speak with Him. You tell Him how you feel, what you would have hoped for – there is a relationship. You are not alone in the difficult struggles of life and spiritual perfection.

I realized things in those days. A severe cold bound me to bed. No doctor could find anything wrong with me. The clinical picture was clear, at least the doctors couldn’t see anything. The pain was unbearable and there was absolutely no pain killer that could stop it. I changed three different pain killers and still the pain was not alleviated.

At this time I got the news that the brother of my father, whose name I bear, had an advanced form of cancer in the vocal cords and larynx. He had a largyngectomy. It was the result of chronic alcohol consumption and smoking. Generally he lived a bad life, without any quality.

Then I felt something a former Buddhist and now a Christian monk on Mount Athos told me, that you need to have a God you can talk to; to perceive and to feel someone besides yourself Who hears you.

I don’t know if it’s wrong or right. I only know it is a deep need of man. This is evidenced by life itself. Even these Buddhists, who are from a non-theistic religion, created various deities. Even in dream language and worlds. But they have a need to refer to someone, to something, someone beyond and outside themselves, even if it’s dreamy. Besides, reality and truth is something very relevant and will always remain so. It is an enigma, a mystery.”

At this I remembered the words of Saint Gregory the Theologian, who had a sensitive and melancholic nature, when he said: “When you are not well, or not feeling so, speak. Speak even if it is to the wind.”

Translated by, and hat tip to: John Sanidopoulos (Mystagogy blog)
Original (Greek): Fr. Libyos

Written by Stephen

January 12, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Posted in Asia, China, Monastery

Monastery and News Article From Thailand

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Was visiting the website for the Thai Orthodox Church today, and came across this article, first published in the Bangkok Post, August 15, 2010, by Maxmilian Wechsler. A very interesting view into the work of the Church there. The full text of the article is below, and the original, with more pictures, can be found here.

Also, a male monastery is being built in rural Thailand, and novices and monks are being sought. More details can be found here (scroll down), and anyone interested is asked to contact Fr. Oleg (pictured at right), the head of the mission in Thailand.

Pattaya has long been known as Thailand’s sin city by the beach–teeming with prostitutes, massage parlours, brothels, foreign mafia, pubs and bars–not a place one goes to seek spiritual enlightenment.

But in the midst of a city famous for all the wrong reasons is an unusual sight _ the All Saints Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), a building with three golden domes and beautifully painted frescos inside.

The burly Russian who runs this outpost of Orthodox Christianity says that while he’s not impressed by his surroundings, his congregation is growing and his church is doing a good job of taking care of the faithful.

”It is very difficult for me to come and stay here. I don’t feel so good. All the sin has some bad energy and you can feel it. You can feel the atmosphere of the sin,” said Archimandrite Oleg, whose secular name is Oleg Mikhailovich Cherepanin.

”I can stay for one or two nights, but after that I become sick and want to go back to Bangkok. I rarely leave the church whether I am in Bangkok or in Pattaya.

”The present problem for me is that the sins in Pattaya are like a part of normal life. If a person commits a sin then he or she can go to church and confess, then they will understand that the sin is not a part of normal life, but it is like a sickness of the soul.

”But when sin begins to be a part of normal life and the person doesn’t feel it, then this is a problem and this is the one we have here in Pattaya.”

Archimandrite Oleg told Spectrum how his church started in Thailand.

”After many letters from Russian people living in Thailand were sent to the late His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow, I was sent here in 1999 to see and learn about the spiritual situation of the people who went abroad, especially to this region and to Thailand,” he said.

”What I saw was not only Russians, but also Bulgarians, Greeks, Romanians as well as Orthodox people from other western countries who are also Orthodox but didn’t have any spiritual care, so I reported to His Holiness and he blessed me to try to organise an Orthodox parish in Bangkok, and that was the beginning of Orthodoxy in Thailand. The St Nicholas parish was opened in Bangkok and I was appointed as its rector.

”However, at that time, I could do nothing but pray. People came and prayed with me, and, step by step, it became a parish with other nationals joining and Thai people became interested as well.

”We are not called the Russian Orthodox Church we are the Orthodox Church in Thailand, which is for everyone. We have in our parish Russians, Ukrainians, Romanians Bulgarians, people from France and other countries, including Africa. Every Orthodox person is welcome.

”We decided to be under the Moscow Patriarchate. The Orthodox Church in Thailand is under His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia, who was enthroned in February 2009. The Patriarch visited Bangkok when he was Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate in 2001.

”The Orthodox Church is the biggest religion in Russia with about 85% of the population followers. However, this doesn’t mean that 85% go to church. When I say Russia, I mean all republics of the former Soviet Union. You know, the boundaries of a church are bigger than the borders of the Russian states because all Orthodox believers in former Soviet republics were under the Moscow Patriarchate.”

For many years Pattaya has been a popular holiday destination for Russians, and many have retired there. Many have also landed themselves in trouble with the law, and Archimandrite Oleg is always ready to lend a hand to those who need it.

”We have problems of people detained at the Immigration Detention Centre in Bangkok. Some of them have been there for several months. I know one woman who has been there for about three years. Thailand won’t pay for their repatriation,” he said. ”Those people came here to make money because they are poor. We collect money for them, so they can be repatriated back home.

”I explain to everyone detained there that it is not possible for the parish to help everyone. I tell them to send the money back when they reach home because we have to help others. So far, we have already helped about 90 persons, mainly women who are prostitutes, each with about $400.

”They came from Russia, Uzbekistan, Belarus and other republics. They all promised and guaranteed to pay us back, but only one person did so during the past 11 years. I don’t like to talk about this. When helping them, I try to close my eyes. I am also a human.”

Despite some of the bad publicity, Russian tourists and residents of Pattaya attract, they are not the major criminals that some think they are, according to locally-based Russian Leonid Borisov.

”Recently I attended the opening of the Transnational Crime Centre in Pattaya where several hundred photos of wanted foreign criminals were displayed,” he said. ”People and the media in Thailand talk a lot about the Russian mafia, but I was amazed because I couldn’t find even a single Russian person on the wanted list,” added Mr Borisov who worked for seven years as an interpreter in Vientiane, Laos, before moving to Pattaya and first working as a tour leader and now as a journalist on a Pattaya-based website.

The All Saints Orthodox Church in Pattaya has become a haven for not only European follows but also local converts.

Jirawat Kesa, 33, is a Thai working for a Russian tour company in Pattaya. He can speak Russian, but not read or write the language.

”My girlfriend is from Ukraine. I was a Buddhist but converted to be Orthodox because my girlfriend is also one. She and her mother told me that if we want to live together then I should be an Orthodox.

”I must say that this religion makes me feel good, and I have no problem with it. I go to the church here regularly.”

Archimandrite Oleg says his church is slowly gaining a following in Thailand.

”Now there are around 20 to 30 Thai followers in Thailand. We could have more if we baptised them, but we can’t do that if they don’t understand what orthodoxy is and how different it is, for example, from Protestants,” he said. ”Many of our Thai members are married to Russians, both women and men. They prefer to be orthodox because it is easier for their family life.”

After entering the church, most people are overwhelmed by the magnificent paintings covering the walls and ceilings, which were mostly painted by Thai artists from pictures taken at churches in Russia.

The services at the church are also memorable. A choir consisting of four Russian women regularly sings there, and Archimandrite Oleg’s prayers make many feel like they are in a church in Russia.

”My activities are not only to make the divine service. People will come to a priest with various problems, like when they have no money; when they are sick; when they are in the immigration and other prisons or when they have problems with the police and so on. They will write a letter asking for help, and this doesn’t apply only to Russians, but to all Orthodox believers of other nationalities as well.”

There is one church in Bangkok and others under construction in Phuket, Ratchaburi and Koh Samui. A Thai priest, the Reverend Danai (Daniel) Wanna, stays in Pattaya most of the time.

”We will construct churches in places like Ratchaburi and Koh Samui because according to Russian tradition, it is very important to have monasteries outside the city. We believe that monks who pray for us must be in a quiet place with not much civilisation. We are now constructing a church in Phuket which will be the biggest of the four in Thailand.

”We have to complete the churches in Phuket and Ratchaburi and have a new one planned on Koh Samui. We also plan to open two more in Chiang Mai and Nong Khai and to build a new big church in Bangkok.”

Many may think that Pattaya, with its reputation for sleaze, is an unusual location for a church.

”We decided to build a church in Pattaya because many Russians visit and reside there permanently. The church was opened in December 2009.

”I don’t want to say anything bad about the Thai people who are working in the bars. The guilt that is going on in Pattaya lies mostly with foreigners. They come here with money.”

Since arriving in Thailand 11 years ago Archimandrite Oleg has grown to love his adopted country.

”If we live in Thailand, we have to respect the country, its people and their culture.

”I have adapted to Thailand very well. I love Thailand and the Thai people. I have one request for the Thai government, to give me the possibility to die in Thailand. When I die, please put me in Thai soil,” he said.

”I don’t ask permission for Thai citizenship, but only ask for the possibility to have my body buried in Thailand, if it is possible.

”I must complain about the Russians because many of them live in Thailand for many years, but they know nothing about this country, its culture and other things. In order to get closer ties between our two countries, we plan to organise Thai language courses for the Russians and Russian courses for the Thais, free of charge.

”And when we talk about the language, it also means culture, because people must know each other better.

”Why free? Because the Thai people who are working as guides etc, are not so rich, and if we ask for some money, they will not join us.”

What does Archimandrite Oleg regard as his biggest achievement in Thailand? ”It was the people who completely changed, and for the better,” he replied.

Written by Stephen

January 8, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Pictures from Pakistan

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I was looking at the website for the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia recently, and came across some pictures from Pakistan depicting the liturgy during Lent and Pascha, visiting the faithful, and a seminar. They can be viewed here. Please do keep Fr. John Tanveer, his family and flock, and Pakistan in your prayers.

Written by Stephen

January 6, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Posted in Asia, Pakistan

Interview and News from Indonesia

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The website Friends of Indonesia, detailing the work of Fr. Daniel’s ROCOR mission, has recently been updated with new pictures, articles, and information. It is well worth checking out, and can be found here.

The latest newsletter has also been released, and can be read here.

Lastly, I thought I’d post part on an interview with Fr. Dionysios Surya Halim (pictured to the left), conducted in 2005 by, titled, “Incarnational Approach to Orthodoxy in Indonesia.” Fr. Dionysios is an Indonesian priest of Chinese descent. The rest of the interview can be read here. The rebirth of Orthodoxy in Indonesia is widely attributed to Archimandrite Daniel B.D. Byantoro, a Muslim Indonesian who converted to Orthodoxy in the 1980s. His missionary effort eventually brought official government recognition of the Orthodox Church in Indonesia in 1996 (with a legal act of Government:” SK Dirjen Bimas Kristen Depag R.I. no.: F/Kep/Hk.00.5/19/637/1996″). Can you tell us how Orthodoxy has grown since then in this predominately Muslim country?

Fr. Dionysios: When Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro (who has some Chinese among his ancestors) started his mission in Indonesia, he was not aware that there was an Orthodox presence prior to his conversion and his mission efforts in Indonesia. This is because what you mentioned about the Church in Batavia (Old Jakarta) happened before Indonesian independence and before the country was called Indonesia. Besides, it was not mainly a mission Church for the Indonesians, but a foreign Church catering to the Russian people. Therefore, as Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro has said, our mission, when viewed in the light of the recent connection to the Church of Russia, is indeed a “rebirth” for the Orthodox mission, but being completely independent from any foreign mission endeavor, it is also completely new “phase of modern mission” movement within Orthodoxy. For it is being done by a local son of the Indonesian soil rather than by the missionary efforts of a foreign mission body. It is the Church for the Indonesians started by an Indonesian. Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro learned that a Russian Orthodox Church existed in Batavia (old Jakarta) during the last years of the Dutch colonial government in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and the first years of Indonesian government only after he had contact with Archbishop HILARION of Australia. Before that he knew nothing about it. So there is no direct organic connection between the Russian Church in Batavia during the Dutch colonial era and the present indigenous movement of the Indonesian Orthodox Church among the people of Indonesia. The separate histories, the one in the Batavian era and the other in modern Indonesia, are connected by way of the recent ordination of the new priests by Archbishop HILARION.

Right from the very beginning of his mission, Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro has been conscious of the ethnic diversity of Indonesia, and he made the point from the very beginning that, as part of his mission policy, there has to be an Indonesian-Chinese cultural expression for Orthodoxy in Indonesia in addition to his concentration on the Javanese cultural expression in the city of Solo where he started his mission. And of course there has to be a national expression in the Indonesian language as well. Unfortunately, during the early phase of the mission, there were not many Chinese members who came to the faith. The only Chinese descendant for whom Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro expected to develop the Chinese-Indonesian cultural expression of Orthodoxy was himself. Yet he was culturally more Javanese than Chinese, because he grew up in Java among the Javanese.

Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro, who has a Chinese name “Chao Heung Jin”, himself has made efforts to learn the Chinese language. Because of time constraints, he had to abandon the effort, but he is fluent in Korean. However, with the recent marriage of Fr Kyrillos Junan Iswaja (himself a Chinese) before his ordination, Fr Daniel has given us guidance on how to keep the Indonesian-Chinese wedding custom within the context of Orthodox practice without changing the Liturgical tradition of the Church. It was a very beautiful combination.
Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro provides us with much guidance on how to incorporate the Indonesian-Chinese (or other Indonesian ethnic) cultural expression within Indonesian Orthodoxy, and we are going to implement it slowly when the time comes. He has also done similar things with the introduction of some Javanese cultural expressions into Orthodoxy. Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro has an academic background in cultural anthropology and at present is teaching world religions and cultures at Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio, USA. He also knows seven languages and is beginning to learn Russian. It will be his eighth language.

The guiding principle that helps Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro accomplish his mission is the “Incarnational” approach, which means that the Gospel has to be incarnated within the context of the local cultures, languages, financial support and leadership.

The great principle of Nevius, a Protestant missionary to China, is very compatible with this incarnational approach. The Nevian principle states that, in order for any mission effort to be successful at all, it has to fulfill the criteria of “self propagation” (the proclamation of the gospel has to be done by local people with local expression), “self-supporting” (as early as possible the local people have to be able to support themselves financially so that they will not depend upon foreign aid all the time, which results in an unhealthy dependency on the foreign leader rather than the local people) and “self-rule” (as early as possible after proper training the leadership of the Church has to be relegated to the local people, so that it is not under the dictate of foreign interests and power).

With the bitter history of colonialism from which Indonesia has freed itself, it is embedded deep within our psyche to detest and to loathe any sign of colonialism, whether it is political, religious or cultural. Anyone who wants to do mission work in Indonesia while disregarding this Indonesian cultural psychology will be bound to fail in his endeavor. The Indonesian people will revolt against anything that they smack of foreign religious-cultural colonialism (whatever and wherever it comes from).

The vision of Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro, which has also become our vision, is that there has to be an indigenous Indonesian Orthodox Church, not an implanted outside culture, interest and power in Indonesia. Any foreign power and cultural imposition will be deemed unacceptable. We want to become Orthodox as Indonesians, we don’t want to become what we are not. Our interest is not in foreign culture, we are only interested in the ” Orthodox Apostolic Faith” of the Church, pure and simple.

Therefore the plans and visions of the mission work for Indonesia were not something incidental, but had been contemplated for a long time by Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro, even when he was still a student in Korea. They became more intense when he was at Mt. Athos. He was already well taught in his former Protestant Seminary in Korea (which is an affiliate of Fuller Theological Seminary) on the principles of indigenization and inculturation of the Gospel. He knew his culture, and he wanted to express Orthodoxy within the contexts of his own culture. And he found that the history of Orthodoxy and many features of Orthodoxy are conducive toward implementing that kind of indigenization and inculturation.
It was on Mt. Athos that he started to translate the Divine Liturgy into the Javanese language and write the first Orthodox theological treatises in that language. Also during his stay on Mt. Athos, he started to create and coin new terms for translating many Orthodox terms that had not existed within the language. When the newly created terms sounded too awkward and strange, he resorted to using the original Greek terms side by side with them, such as using “Theotokos” alongside “Sang Pamiyos Widdhi.”

Theologically speaking, Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro also used the existing thought patterns of Indonesian culture to package Orthodox teaching within the Indonesian mental set up. Just as the Church Fathers had to face Greek paganism, Judaism, and Gnosticism in order to present the Gospel intelligibly to ancient peoples, Orthodox theology faces similar challenges in the context of the Indonesian mission.

Those challenges are:
– The Islamic strand that has similarities with Judaism.
– The Hindu-Buddhistic strand that has similarities with Greek paganism.
– The Javanese-mystical strand called “Kebatinan” (the “Esoteric Belief”) that has similarities to Gnosticism. (It is a blend of ancient shamanistic-animism on the one hand and Hindu-Buddhistic mysticism and Islamic Sufism on the other, and is divided into many mystical denominations and groups, just like Gnosticism was.)
– The secularistic-materialistic strand of the modern world.

The first three strands have made the Indonesian people intensely religious. Into this religious and theological climate, the Patristic approach to ancient Greek paganism, Judaism and Gnosticism has provided, for the present writer, a paradigm to deal with all those strands inherent in Indonesian culture. In this regard, Orthodoxy must build trust among religions in Indonesia before it can have any significant influence. By maintaining a harmonious relationship with other religions existing in the country, Orthodoxy can contribute toward combating the pernicious influence of materialistic secularism.
In term of Orthodox religious practices, there are religious practices that cannot be described as belonging to any particular religion in Indonesian culture. They are practiced all over Indonesia, and although they have many different names and some slight variations in practice, they basically have the same pattern. These practices include fasting, ascetic labor, communal meals, prayer for the dead, and the keeping of relics. Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro had to deal with these cultural religious practices carefully, in order that Orthodoxy be acceptable to the Indonesian people.

For example, the practice of sitting on the floor for religious purposes is adopted in the worship of the Church in Indonesia. “Coned rice” instead of kolyva is used for commemorating the dead, since Indonesians do not eat bread as their main staple and do not grow wheat. The prayer of the Trisagion is used to replace the traditional Indonesian practice of honoring departed ancestors. Women wear veils in the Church, as was traditionally done by Orthodox people, but also conforms to the idea of the pious woman in the Indonesian culture. Icons and relics, with a right Orthodox and biblical understanding, have replaced amulets and heirlooms. Communal meals are usually done during festivities in the Church, as well as during Lent, where everybody breaks their fast together in the Church after Pre-Sanctified Liturgy. Some cultural symbolism has been adopted as well for the usage of the Church, such as the usage of young coconut leaves for decorating the Church building during festivals and feasts.

The first thing Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro did when he arrived back in Indonesia to start his mission was to form an evangelistic foundation named “Yayasan Dharma Tuhu” (“Orthodox Foundation”) and then changed into “Yayasan Orthodox Injili Indonesia” (“Indonesian Evanglistic Orthodox Foundation”). This foundation later became what we know as the “Gereja Orthodox Indonesia” (“The Indonesian Orthodox Church”), an umbrella organization for all Orthodox jurisdictions if they want to be legally recognized when operating in Indonesia, of which Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro is the president to date. It is the only legal Orthodox organization, and Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro is the only legal president and founder of the organization. No foreigner is allowed to be a head of any religious organization in Indonesia.

When he arrived in Indonesia, the city of Solo, Central Java, there are several forms and methods of mission that Archimandirite Daniel Byantoro adopted, namely:
Proclamation of the Gospel in its wider sense, namely, through preaching, Bible study, direct personal evangelism, friendship evangelism, the distribution of literature, radio broadcasting programs, seminars, socialization, and mission travel.

Preaching means not only what we do during Liturgy in the Church, but also preaching about Orthodoxy at non-Orthodox gatherings, such as during the Christmas festival, during family gatherings, during marriage ceremonies and so on, so that a wider audience will be introduced to Orthodoxy.

Bible Studies are done not only within Orthodox communities, but also done for everybody who is interested to hear. During such Bible studies conducted by Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro, between 50-100 non-Orthodox people usually come to attend.

Direct personal evangelism has been done by many of our priests. It is done through house-to-house visitation, or when meeting someone on the road, at shops, or at any place the priest or the Orthodox person happens to meet people. It can be done also through personal friendships with non-Christian or non-Orthodox.

We are also sending literature and books to interested people within the city, outside the city, within the island, and outside the island. Sometimes we also sell that literature to other people.

The translation of liturgical books is still being done because we have not finished the Menaion, the Festal Menaion, the Triodion, Pentacostarion, and the Paraklitiki / Octoechos. Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro, in spite of his busy schedule in the USA, is still doing the translation of the Liturgikon, Eirotelestikon, the Great Horologion, and the Liturgy of St James.

In the Jakarta area, a radio program was started with the Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro as the speaker and an occasional radio program is also done in the city of Solo. The Church in Solo has a vocal group that accompanies such a program.

Seminars on Orthodoxy were done only occasionally because it costs a lot of money, especially to rent a space in a big hotel. The seminars target people in the middle to high-class levels of society.

Last but not least, in order to open the possibility of new mission areas in this huge country of Indonesia, Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro has done mission travels to different parts of Indonesia, such as to Kalimantan (Borneo), to West and East Sumatra Island, and to Timor Island.

The first thing he did was the translation of liturgical and theological books for the purpose of teaching, and most of the main services have been translated into the Indonesian language and partly in Javanese, Balinese, and the Batak language of Sumatra.

Written by Stephen

January 4, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Posted in Asia, Indonesia, Interview, ROCOR