Soehadiweko Djojodihardjo (1918-1988)

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No one person has had a more profound influence in the growth and development of the Gereja Injili di Tanah Jawa (Evangelical Church of Java) from the time of its formation in 1940 to the present than Soehadiweko Djojodihardjo (b. 4 October 1918, d. 16 September 1988). As the son of another extraordinary church leader, Sardjoe Djojodihardjo, Soehadiweko as a youth already demonstrated remarkable capabilities. Mission policy in the 1930s provided for only limited leadership training. The normal school in Margorejo, which earlier served a key role in leadership training, was closed in the 1920s because of financial pressure. In 1937 two promising young leaders, Soewignjo Harsosoedirdjo and Siswojo were sent to Bale Wiyoto Theological Institute in Malang, East Java. Soehadiweko Djojodihardjo was the only person sent to study at the Hogere Theologische School (Higher Theological School) in Batavia (Jakarta).

All of Soehadiweko's books and notes from his study in Batavia were destroyed when the train on which he returned to his home was set on fire and destroyed. This experience inaugurated for him personally the baptism in fire—martyrdom, mob violence in Muslim uprisings, oppressive occupation, famine, revolutionary struggle—that his church was to experience in the decade of the 1940s. Soon Soehadiweko was standing with his father, carrying key church leadership responsibilities. After the uprisings in 1942 Soehadiweko was among the two teams of two sent to ascertain the consequences of violence for the churches. In 1943 he was chosen as synod secretary. During the tense days of the revolution (1945-1950), by virtue of their affiliation with the allegedly Dutch religion, Javanese Christians were accused of complicity with the Dutch effort to retake Indonesia as a colony. Thus the church lived under the constant threat of violence at the hands of radical Muslim nationalists. In this situation the synod appointed Soehadiweko to the intelligence office of the revolutionary forces while other younger members of the church engaged in other aspects of the struggle.

Soehadiweko was still quite young when he was called to take over pastoral responsibilities at the point of his father's untimely death in 1948. Shortly thereafter he was also chosen to serve as chairman of the synod, a position he filled for more than 30 years. During this period the congregation he co-pastored (for a time together with Esther Soesanto) spawned dozens of branch fellowships, more than a dozen of which became mature congregations. The number of congregations in the synod expanded during this time from 18 to 52. His rich pastoral ministry went far beyond the circles of his congregation and synod. Sometimes this ministry was carried out in the midst of violent political and religious upheaval such as during the aftermath of the failed coup attempt in 1965.

Soehadiweko also played key roles at the board level in developing many of the synod's ministering agencies. One of the most significant of these has been the theological college in Pati, Akademi Kristen Wiyata Wacana. At the same time Soehadiweko for decades was chairman of the board of ecumenical institutions like Satya Wacana Christian University in Salatiga and Duta Wacana Theological Seminary in Yogyakarta with his fellow churchman from the Pati congregation, Pirenamoelja, serving as secretary. These complemented a long-term role as a key participant in the activities of the Council (now Fellowship) of Churches in Indonesia and involvement in the Asian Mennonite Conference and the Mennonite World Conference beginning in 1952.


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Soekotjo, Sigit Heru and Lawrence M. Yoder. "Sejarah Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia." [History of the Evangelical Church of Java], Unpublished Manuscript.

Yoder, Lawrence M. Editor. Bahan Serjarah Gereja Injili di Tanah Jawa. [Historical Resources on the History of the Evangelical Church of Java.] Pati, Indonesia: Komisi Sejarah Gereja GITD, 1977.

Yoder, Lawrence M. “The Introduction and Expression of Islam and Christianity in the Cultural Context of North Central Java." PhD dissertation, Fuller Theological Seminary, 1987.

Yoder, Lawrence M. "Sejarah Margorejo." Wiyata Wacana, 7, no. 1, (1977): 18-25.

Author(s) Lawrence M Yoder
Date Published 1989

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MLA style

Yoder, Lawrence M. "Soehadiweko Djojodihardjo (1918-1988)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 10 Dec 2018.

APA style

Yoder, Lawrence M. (1989). Soehadiweko Djojodihardjo (1918-1988). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 10 December 2018, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 839-840. All rights reserved.

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