Sumatra (Indonesia)

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Sumatra, one of the larger islands of Indonesia, former Dutch East Indies. In 1871 the Dutch Mennonite Mission Association opened a station at Pakantan among the Battak tribe, where Heinrich Dirks was active 1871-1880. For lack of Mennonite missionaries his successor was not a Mennonite, but Tillmann Ernst Irle. In 1888, however, a young Mennonite missionary, Gerhard Nikkel, entered the work here and served until 1901. Other missionaries in this area were Nicolai Wiebe 1890 - 1900, Johann Thiessen 1901 - 1909, David Dirks 1905 - 1918, Peter Löwen 1912 - 1914, Peter Nachtigal 1912 – d.1928. After Nachtigal's death the Sumatra mission field was vacant until 1931, when it was transferred to the Rheinische (Rhine) Mission (non-Mennonite). Later converts in this territory joined the Battak inland church. See also Batta, Hutagodang, Mandailing, Muara-Sipongi, Pakantan, and Penjaboengen.

However there is still a Mennonite Church in Sumatra. In 1952 Zacharias Djz Sahata, a Mennonite preacher appointed by Peter Nachtigal before 1928, living at Poetjoek Pimpinan Perkoempoelan Kristen Penjaboengen (Mandailing) Tapanoeli, Sumatra, wrote to the widow of Peter Nachtigal (living at Lautenbach, near Heilbronn, Germany, d.1958), giving a thorough report of the experiences of the Sumatra Mennonites during and since World War II. He reported small groups or congregations still in existence with a total of 161 souls as follows: Dolok Siantar—13 families (60 persons); Kota-Nopan—2 families (10 persons); Muara-Sipongi—2 families (10 persons); Pakantan—5 families (21 persons). These congregations have not joined the Battak Church but have remained independent as a Mennonite group and are organized as a conference with the name Perkeompoelan Mennonite Protestan Indonesia (Association of Mennonite Protestants in Indonesia). The property of the former Dutch Mission has been destroyed except for small remnants of the building. The five centers of mission work in the Mandailing area were Pakantan, Penjaboengen, Muara-Sipongi, Kota-Nopan, and Bonan-Dolok. In the late 1950s there were still churches in these five places.


Jaarverslagen (annual records) of the Dutch Mission Association.

Uit Verleden en Heden van de Doopsgezinde Zending. 1947.

Author(s) Harold S Bender
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bender, Harold S. "Sumatra (Indonesia)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 1 Oct 2023.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. (1959). Sumatra (Indonesia). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 1 October 2023, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 654. All rights reserved.

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