Gereja Toraja

The Sa'dan River is the longest river in South Sulawesi, Indonesia, stretching 182 km from the North Toraja highlands, flowing through five districts. The water from Sa'dan River is essential for agricultural and for supporting peoples lives. The water of Sa'dan River contributes to the running of the Malea Hydroelectric Power Plant which supplies electricity to eight districts in South Sulawesi.

The commemoration and the river festival helped to promote the sustainability of Sa'dan River and draw the attention of the people to the ecological crises—and that the river has not been properly maintained.

During the Toraja Church commemoration, Rev. Dr. Alfred Anggui, moderator of the church, reflected that rivers are one of the most valuable natural resources, and vital for the support and sustenance of human life and the ecosystem. 

Their presence is a source of life and nourishment, supporting diverse ecosystems, providing a habitat for countless species, and ensuring the survival of numerous plants and animals,” he said. Rivers also serve as a lifeline for human communities, offering access to fresh water, transportation, and fertile lands for cultivation.”

However, Anggui added, environmental degradation and deforestation threaten the survival of rivers.

"One of the important strategies to maintain the sustainability of rivers and to improve environmental conditions is to make a concerted effort to introduce tree planting activities upstream and along the rivers, as early as possible,” he said. "Research revealed that the destruction of the forest on the upstream of the river, was causing the water source to be unstable.”

Anggui explained that, in the dry season, the water is very low and, in the rainy season, the water overflows, causing floods. Apart from the damage upstream, there are also damages and pollution in the river and along the banks.”

Lack of maintenance of the river banks causes landslides that occur at different spots, blocking and narrowing the river. Apart from landslides, there are also many houses and livestock shed-owners who throw their garbage into the river,” he added. 

As part of the river festival, people planted trees in three different locations, and cleaned and revitalized the banks. Hundreds of people, including young students, were involved in transporting 3,500 plant seeds to the mountainside, digging holes, and planting the trees. Some congregations located along the bank of Sadan River were also involved in cleaning the river in their respective areas.

The celebration was held twice on the river banks, attended by hundreds of people, including congregations and communities from the surrounding areas. 

Anggui reflected that the rivers on this earth were created from the beginning with clear water to provide fertility and prosperity for all creation.  

During the thanksgiving prayers, nine children and three adults were baptized on the banks of this river.  

Some cultural activities reflecting the theme of the celebration were held on the banks of the river, including dancing, music, water sports, painting, TikTok, and creating social media content and discussions on the role of the church and society in protecting the environment.