In Juanda Street of Bogor, there is a church standing next to the side entry gate of Bogor Palace. The structure shows that it was not build in modern era and inherits a typical early 1900-an architectural building of  Europe. The name of the church is Zebaoth Church. It is  a Protestant one but most of all, it is one of a landmark in Bogor.

People in Bogor sometimes forget the name of the church and even until now, the church is more known as a "Rooster Church (Indonesian: Gereja Ayam)". It is definitely not because it breeds roosters inside . It is definitely not. The reason is simply because the ornament of the church itself. On the top of it carillon or tower, there is a status of a hanging rooster . (I am sorry for being unable to show you the picture but my Xperia M camera didn't have enough capability to take a clear picture from distance).

Actually the church itself had two other names beside the ones mentioned on the above paragraph. However these two names are no longer familiar to the ears of Bogor Citizens.

Let me bring you back to the past of Bogor a bit. I will bring you back a bit to 1920. In the year the first stone of it was laid on the January 30th by J.P. Graaf Van Limburg Stirum, the Dutch 61st Governor General in Indonesia. The church was ordained as Koningin Wilhelmina Kerk (The Queen Wilhelmina Church).

It was purposed to be a church for European people in Bogor. Yes, only if you were "White People" you could make an entry to the church. This was a common habit of the colonialist not to allow themselves under the same roof with Indonesian indigenous although they kept the same religion. The people with white skin, auburn hair and green or blue eyes were placed on higher place than the ones with colored skin. This separation could also be caused by the facts that most of the visitors to the church were coming from the circle of the Palace a.k.a VIP persons. That's why it was also an informal name as European Church.

The church experienced 4 changes of Netherlands East India Governor General since its establishment.  General Heinz Teer Porten was the last name before Netherlands surrendered to Japanese Army in 1942. 

After Japan was defeated in 1945 and the Alliance won, it was once again under the authority of the country of tulips, Holland . It was not too long because three year after that, the church was handed to GPIB , the abbreviation of Gereja Protestan di Indonesia Bagian Barat (The Western Indonesia Protestant Churches). It was the last time the church was under foreign country.

Even though it was already formally an Indonesian church, a custom influenced by the previous regime in Indonesia was still exist. The service in the church was still done in Dutch not in Indonesian.  The custom continued for 14 years and made the congraegation of the church were nicknamed Nederlansche spreken gemeente (the Dutch speaking congregation). Finally in 1962 the usage of Dutch language was stopped in the church service and preach.

Until 1962, the name of this Protestant building was still as its original name. It was only changed to the current name Zebaoth church. I am not 100% person sure about the meaning but Zebaoth is said to be mentioned more than 200 times in the bible and it is often translated as the name of God.

However not all people in Bogor is accustomed to this name. So perhaps whenever you come to Bogor, if you would like to see the church, please remember its name in Indonesian i.e. Gereja Ayam (The Rooster Church). They will surely direct you to the correct place.

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About Anton Ardyanto

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