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Indonesia urges Protestants to guide youths in digital era

Minister tells major ecumenical body gathering it has a responsibility to ensure the young reap benefits of Industry 4.0

Indonesia urges Protestants to guide youths in digital era

Indonesian Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly strikes a gong to open the  Communion of Churches in Indonesia general assembly on Nov. 8 on Sumba island in East Nusa Tenggara province. (Photo supplied)

The Indonesian government has called on Protestant leaders to assist and guide youths in reaping the benefits of the digital era.

Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly told members of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) at the start of ecumenical body’s six-day general assembly on Nov. 8 that it hopes Protestant churches will support government initiatives in the digital field  

The meeting, held every five years, is being held in Waingapu, the capital of East Sumba district, on Sumba island in East Nusa Tenggara province. 

Over the next five years, the government under President Joko Widodo will put more emphasis on Industry 4.0 and expects young people, including Christians, to equip themselves with the skills needed to tap the growth the digital era will bring.

Industry 4.0 refers to a combination of traditional manufacturing and industrial platforms and practices with the latest smart technology innovations.

“We need to prepare our youth by improving their skills and making sure that they are not left out,” Laoly said at the start of the grand assembly attended by 7,000 participants from 90 Protestant denominations.

Laoly said he was sent by President Widodo, who was unable to attend the event, to encourage Christian churches to strengthen democracy, justice, and care for the welfare of all creation.

He called on the Protestant leaders to focus attention on education of the younger generation.

“The education of young people is important, but how far have [Protestant] churches prepared their congregations, particularly the young generation, for facing the future?” the minister asked.

PGI spokeswoman Irma Riana Simanjuntak said the government’s call was welcome encouragement regarding an issue that has been of concern for some time, and she expressed hope the government would work with them in achieving the goal. 

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“During the assembly, participants also discussed how churches can be more creative and innovative in using digital tools,” Simanjuntak told ucanews on Nov. 10.

“The assembly is as an ecumenical meeting in building a common vision in responding to various problems that have become challenges for us.” 

She said the PGI wants to prepare congregations so that none are left behind in this new technological era. This will be a daunting task of new PGI leaders, who will be elected for five-year terms before the end of the gathering on Nov. 13. 

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