The Church of Zebaoth Bogor is a church sitting next to Bogor Palace. It is known more as “Gereja Ayam” or “The Rooster Church” by people of Bogor .
The background of its nickname is just simply because one thing. At the roof of its bell tower, there is a statue of a chicken, a male one i.e. a rooster. Actually if its Indonesian nickname is translated into English, I should have called it “The Church of Chicken” but since the figure is a male chicken then it is better to call it “The Rooster Church”. It sounds better and no one will interpret as the church of coward (=chicken).
The Church of Zebaoth location that is side by side with the Bogor Palace was not because of no reason. It was set up there with an intention.
Unfortunately what intention it is can only be explained by telling you a short story. So, I hope you have a bit spare time to read further this writing.
The history of the Bogor Zebaoth Church
In early 20th Century, the flow of European people that came to Netherland East Hindia , currently known as Indonesia grew rapidly. It was not only for tourism but also many high rank officials of Netherlands made trips to this country.
Mostly their landing place was Batavia or Jakarta but as I described in my writing about Bogor Palace, Jakarta was already too hot for them. Therefore, many of the “White people” decided to reside in the nearest city to Jakarta. The cool weather of this rain city and its quietness and peacefulness attracted them to stay in Bogor.
The influx had caused the number of European people increased a lot in Bogor. Unfortunately, in this small city, the facility that could accommodate the spiritual needs of the European Residence that were mostly Christians were not quite many in the city. Furthermore, Christians were already adopted by many people in Indonesia. So the available churches could not accommodate all of worshipers.
The situation caused inconvenience among them, especially for the high society and ranked persons.
For this purpose, the 61st Governor General of East Hindia in 1920 J.P. Graaf Van Limburg Stirum decided to build a church. The church would be specialized firstly for the high position persons in East Hindia government and family. That was why the church was built next to the Palace of Bogor. It was to make easy for the persons in the palace to come to the church.
The church was named Koningin Wilhelmina Kerk meaning The Queen Wilhelmina Church. The service was held in Dutch Language.
Later on, the church also accepted European worshipers to enter but still prevent Indonesian indigenous to come. (It was a common habit at that time to separate the colonialists and also Indonesian)
The situation continued until 1942 when Japanese troop entered and took over Bogor. The last Dutch Governor General was Heinz Teer Porten.
However as you know Japan lost in World War too 3 and ½ years later and the church was again on the hand of Dutch (Allied Army) in 1945
Three years later, near to the Recognition of Indonesia Soveregnty, the church was transferred to GPIB , the abbreviation of Gereja Protestan di Indonesia Bagian Barat (The Western Indonesia Protestant Churches). This was the last time the church under foreign country hand.
Dutch Language Services
Although, it was already on the hand of Indonesian, the name of the church was still the same. Even, the services conducted here still used Dutch Language. The custom ran through for the next 14 years. It made the congregation of this church named Nederlansche spreken gemeente (the Dutch speaking congregation).
(It made me no wonder to see elder people in Bogor speaking in Dutch Language when I first time landed in this rain city. My teachers could speak this language very well)
The service in Dutch Language just stopped in 1962. After that Indonesian is used for their service
The church is still in active service until now. Every Sunday, Christians from all over Bogor and sometimes from outside Bogor came to attend the service in this church.
The structure of the Zebaoth church is still as it is. The influence of Dutch / Medieval European architecture can be seen on the building.
No change has been made from its original form. Even though the age is already old, 115 years since the first stone was laid, the building still looks strong and gallant. Only re-painting has been done to the structure.
The church has been made as a cultural heritage of Bogor.
(I could not tell you about the situation inside because I am not a Christian. I didn’t want to cause disturbance to the worshiper just to take pictures)
So if you have a chance to visit my city, probably you should also pay a visit to this church (especially if you are Christians). This is one thing that is quite attractive to see.
Location of the Zebaoth Chuch
The address of the Zebaoth Church is Juanda Street Number 8. It stands next to the gate of Bogor Palace and not too far from the Gate of Bogor Botanical Gardens. So it will be easy to find.
Or in case you have a problem to find, please just ask where the “Gereja Ayam” is. Someone will be willingly explain the direction.
Thanks for your time to read