Formerly part of North Minahasa Conference, North Minahasa Bitung Mission is a part of East Indonesia Union Conference in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists. It was organized in 2017. Its headquarters is in Kab. Minahasa North-SULUT, Indonesia.
Territory: Bitung City, and North Minahasa Regency.
Statistics (June 30, 2020): Churches, 123; membership, 14,281; population, 383,709
The territory of North Minahasa covers the total of 2.314.39 km2 of land. In terms of religion demographics, it is 7.39 percent Protestant, 14.3 percent Islam, 8.14 percent Catholic, 0.14 percent Buddhist, 0.02 percent Hindu, and 0.01 percent Confucian.1 Furthermore, Bitung has 304 km2 territory and has six major tribes who lives in harmony despite the diversity: Minahasa, Sanger, Tionghoa, Gorontalo, and Halmahera. The dominant religion is Protestant at 62.95 percent, followed by Islam 32.32 percent, Catholic 3.07 percent, Buddhist 1.39 percent, Hindu 0.26 percent, and Confucian 0.01 percent. Bitung is well known for the industries, especially the fishing companies.2
Origin of Adventist Work in Territory of North Minahasa Bitung Mission
The work in North Minahasa begun in 1919 by Bajon, who was a former Dutch army soldier. He formed a small meeting in the Tetey village and met regularly with some families every Sabbath. In 1925, a literature evangelist named Anton Londa was coming in Tetey. While spreading gospel in this area, he was accused of bringing heresy to that village. This situation also was happened to Bajon previously as well. This forced the group to meet far away from the village. However, on July 18, 1925, the church was officially organized with 10 initial members under North Celebes Mission through the help of Albert Munson. The work of pioneering has been growing rapidly. In 1971, the North Minahasa Mission was organized. During the next decades, the area of North Minahasa and Bitung was part of North Minahasa Conference until 2017 when it was organized as North Minahasa Bitung Mission.
Organization History of Mission
Under the Executive Committee of East Indonesia Union Conference (EIUC) related to the proposal of the establishment North Minahasa Bitung Field based on the Executive Committee of North Minahasa Conference (NMC) (DKMU 2012-033), it was voted to assign Samuel Wullur as the coordinator of the district for two months, May 16 to July 16, 2012. He was appointed to prepare the official announcement of the district.3
Furthermore, the announcement of North Minahasa Bitung District was made on August 18, 2012, with particular requirements needed until December 2012. The Committee of EIUC formed members of a survey committee led by Herry Sumanti, with Edward M. Senewe as the secretary and the following on the Members’ committee: Novry Kaumpungan, Warou Polii, Arie Dien, and Johny Mambu.4 Herry Soetomo thereafter was assigned as the president of North Minahasa Bitung Field together with Secretary-Treasurer Noudy Kills.5
In November 2016, the status of North Minahasa was voted to change from Field status to Mission.6 Furthermore, the date of inauguration was set about February 14 to 15, 2017.7 North Minahasa has 90 local churches with 7,120 baptized members and is empowered with 25 ordained ministers, 21 licensed pastors, and one chaplain. In regards to education institutions operated by the Church, there are six elementary and junior high schools, and two high/vocational schools. Another mission institution is Klabat University, which is located in Airmadidi. Bitung has 32 local churches, 1,996 baptized members. To support the mission of the church in the region, there assigned six ordained ministers and eight licensed pastors, and one chaplain. The church operates schools to cater the need of the children and youth in the region. There are six elementary schools, six junior high schools, and one high/vocational school.
As the center for ministry and administration, the NMBM temporary office was in Parkville Estate on Walanda Maramis Street, Kolongan-Kalawat, North Minahasa, Indonesia. It had been the headquarters of the Church since its inception in August 2012. In August 2019, the mission office has been moved to the currently under development building in Airmadidi, North Minahasa.
Evolution of North Minahasa Bitung Mission
2012 – 2017: North Minahasa Bitung Field under the North Minahasa Conference.
2017 – : North Minahasa Bitung Mission under the East Indonesia Union Conference.
Mission Office Addresses Over the Years
2012 – 2019: Parkville Estate, North Minahasa, North Celebes.
2019 - : Airmadidi, North Minahasa, North Celebes.
The Challenges and Outlook for the Future
The challenges that face the Church in this area are many. First, geographically: A strategic area in the North Sulawesi Province has been the center for economic growth in the region. Bitung Seaport is the most important “gateway” for trading and commerce in the north and east part of Indonesia. This has been the major factor for the migration to the city. The explosion of population: According to the government office for citizenship and record, the increasing number of the population is due to the migration to the region. The growth has reached six percent per year. Culture and religion: the local cultures and their social bond hinders the mission of the Church. Religious fanaticism and other churches add to the difficulties for evangelism. The rise of secularism: scepticism and indifference toward religion are rising as people have become more susceptible to secularism.8
Klabat University has been a great help for the Church. There is a good relationship with the local government. The promise of the great commission in Matt 28:19-20 pronounced by Jesus is that He will be with the Church to the end of the age.9
List of Presidents
Herry Soetomo (2012-2015); Samuel Wullur (2015-2017); Wichlif Robert Jason Laoh (2017- ).
East Indonesia Union Executive Committee Meeting Minutes. East Indonesia Union Conference Archives,
Southern Asia Pacific Division End Year Committee Meeting Minutes. Southern Asia Pacific Division Archives, Silang, Cavite, Philippines.
Dadan Sudarmadi, “Penduduk/Population,” Minahasa Utara Regency in Figures 2019, July 2019, 59.↩
Novri Poulthe Mokoagouw, “Population in Bitung Municipality,” Bitung Municipality in Figures 2020, February 29, 2020, 43.↩
Executive Committee, May 16, 2012, 27, FE-B-15, East Indonesia Union Conference Archives.↩
Executive Committee, July 23, 2012, East Indonesia Union Conference Archives.↩
Executive Committee, August 16, 2012, 31, FC3-B-15, East Indonesia Union Conference Archives.↩
End Year Committee, November 6-9, 2016, 2016-108, Southern Asia Pacific Division Archives.↩
End Year Committee, November 15-22, 2016, 50, East Indonesia Union Conference Archives.↩
Wichlif Laoh, interview by author, Minahasa Utara, September 20, 2019.↩