Ludwig Ingwer Nommensen

1834-1918. German missionary to Sumatra. Born on Nordstrand and apprenticed to a schoolmaster, he entered the Rhine Mission's school at Barmen in 1857. Four years later he was sent out to the mission's new field of Sumatra and soon proved to be a man of indomitable resolution and faith. His ministry among the Bataks proceeded slowly until a number of chiefs were converted, and then Nommensen was overwhelmed by a great people's movement (103,500 Christians in 1911) and undreamed-of problems of church organization. He decided it should be a Batak, not a Western, church: for example, as much as possible of the traditional culture would be retained; Bataks were to be trained for the ministry; and congregations would establish systems of lay elders. Actually, the church organization was patriarchal, and the missionaries held all the positions of influence and authority until German control ended in 1940.