Prayers influence everyday life in the Moluccas. These cultural and religious expressions are embedded in many social activities that are rooted in the core of Moluccan society, among Muslims and Christians, today. In the following series of three photo essays, different church services* are shown as part of daily village life. The first photo essay is about an malam pergumulan.
Photo essay ― The church council members are all dressed up in black, they gather every Monday evening at the Baitrafa Protestant Church in the village of Suli. A familiar sight for many in these ‘Christian’ villages (villages in the Moluccas are ‘Christian’ or ‘Islamic’, due to the segregation of religion). Tonight there is a malam pergumulan, a short prayer service that takes place once a week. Additionally, during the malam pergumulan a weekly evaluation with the church council takes place, which include church teams from different sectors in the village. After this meeting, they always pray together in strict silence. “It is seen as a spiritual need to keep the church teams from different sectors solid and unbreakable,” as one of the church council members explains. [August 2014]
Other photo essays in this serie about daily protestant church life in the Moluccas:
Photo essay: Women in Worship
Photo essay: Empowering Youth
*The structure of services within the Moluccan Protestant Church (Gereja Protestant Maluku, GPM) consists of daily church services. Monday Malam Pergumulan, also Monday Ibadah Remaja (children), Tuesday Ibadah Pria (men), Wednesday Ibadah Wanita (women), Thursday Angkatan Muda (adolescents), Friday Unit-Sector (different sector areas), Saturday Ibadah Rumah Tangga (family service) and Sunday the main church service for everyone. These different smaller services always take place in someone’s home. Its structure is often common to other Christian denominations in the Moluccas.
Side note: Literally, ‘malam’ means evening/night and ‘pergumulan’ means battle or struggle. Translated in this context ‘malam pergumulan’ means night praying. So ‘pergumulan’ refers to those who are praying to be ready spiritually. It’s possible that these prayers are privately held if someone is facing problems of any kind, then the pastor and a couple of church council members will pray together with that person or family in front of the altar in the church or in front of the ‘piring natzar’ (“small offering scale”) in their homes.