Thousands celebrate 50 years of Adventist education in eastern Indonesia

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Thousands celebrate 50 years of Adventist education in eastern Indonesia

Dr. Max Langi, treasurer of the Adventist church in the southern Asia-pacific region (SSD), leads the Sabbath School lesson summary on Saturday, October 17 during the Mt. Klabat University Pioneer chapel. Mt. Klabat University (UNKLAB) celebrated it’s 50th anniversary from October 15-17. [photo by J. Rondonuwu]

School leaders reflect on excellence in education at Mount Klabat University.

October 27, 2015

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Manado, Indonesia

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Romhelyn Gay Deles with additional reporting by Joppi Rondonuwu

On Thursday, October 15 around 7 p.m. in Manado, Indonesia time, international audiences on-site and via web stream watched history unfold through narrated accounts and wonderful music from the stage of Mount Klabat University (UNKLAB). Students, teachers and alumni recounted memories as they celebrated the 50thanniversary of this Adventist educational institution in east Indonesia.

The three-day celebration highlighted the school’s beginning, history and UNKLAB’s founding leaders. Paul Emerson, then a pastor in east Indonesia, took the attendees down memory lane as he shared his involvement in the purchase of the land where the University campus now stands. That important decision by the Adventist church made it possible for UNKLAB to register 29 students on October 3, 1965.

During its first year of operation, UNKLAB students and activities made quite an impression in the neighboring communities. An archived excerpt from the November 1966 issue of the Far Eastern Division Outlook records community reactions as follows:

“What kind of college is this?” asked the townspeople as every afternoon all of the students (men and women) mounted shovels, picks, and hoes on their shoulders and paraded through town to the new land for work. Respect grew as new gardens and the beginnings of a new campus took shape. All students have paid part or all of their expenses through the work program, and, though a bit tiring and disagreeable at first, they began to look forward to this experience as enjoyable and profitable.

“It seems they are always singing,” commented others. It is true, and this year the choir contributed much to evangelistic services wherein were baptized 152 souls, as well as to other meetings and occasions. Often they walked several miles in the evening to lend their assistance.

The article’s author, Edward W. Higgins Jr., who served as the school’s first president from 1965 to 1974, was in attendance at the celebration. He came with his wife, Janice and their eldest son, Douglas, and his wife. UNKLAB’s third president John Pesulima and his wife, Lies; UNKLAB’s 5th president Sinjo J Laoh who is also currently an UNKLAB professor, and UNKLAB’s 6th president, Alfrits B Sepang also attended.

More than 7,000 worshipers filled the school campus on Sabbath, during which Dr. Hudson Kibuuka, associate education director for the Adventist world church, spoke for the hour of worship. He noted not only UNKLAB’s historical impact but its missional significance as well.

Dr. Ronny Walean, Academic Dean, shares the mission of the school by saying, “[it] prepares…students to have employability skills and entrepreneurship capability that uphold the ethical concept and [are] in line with the mission of the Adventist church.”

“UNKLAB is committed to equipping the students with Christian values, knowledge, and skills for the joy of service here and hereafter,” agrees Dean of Students, Dr. Joppi Rondonuwu.

When asked where some alumni are now serving, Rondonowu proudly shared, “Thousands of UNKLAB alumni are now working as pastors, teachers, secretaries, accountants, entrepreneurs, bankers, IT personnel, nurses, engineers, and many others serve Indonesia and the Adventist church worldwide.”

Rondonuwu also emphasized that the school believes in building good relationships, student involvement in activities and a strong alumni association.  

The comprehensive focus on personal, spiritual and outreach development began in 1965 continues today as UNKLAB looks to nurture new generations of students.

There are currently 3,244 university students (undergraduate and graduate) at UNKLAB; and 1,339 elementary, middle, and high school students. Fifty-two percent of the student population is Adventist. The regular teaching staff numbers 112 while there are 55 non-regular staff and teachers.

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