The members of St John’s Lutheran Church Unley in suburban Adelaide have supported a variety of mission ventures over the years. Some have travelled to Cambodia and India while others have engaged in building projects in Aboriginal communities. However, it was only in late 2019 that the congregation formed a mission team to oversee, encourage […]
The members of St John’s Lutheran Church Unley in suburban Adelaide have supported a variety of mission ventures over the years. Some have travelled to Cambodia and India while others have engaged in building projects in Aboriginal communities.
However, it was only in late 2019 that the congregation formed a mission team to oversee, encourage and support members to live as a missionary community, both locally and in the wider world.
St John’s Mission Team members asked LCA International Mission program officer Erin Kerber to help them identify a mission initiative that would suit their congregation and its financial resources. This led to forming a partnership with the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malaysia (ELCM), Steven Lawrence.
The team aims to support Bishop Steven as he completes a PhD in theology at Australian Lutheran College (ALC). As he will continue as ELCM bishop at the same time, his studies are expected to take five to six years.
Christians of all denominations make up less than 10 per cent of the population in Malaysia, while more than 63 per cent are Muslim, 18 per cent are Buddhist and 6 per cent are Hindu. The ELCM has 28 congregations, served by 25 ordained pastors and 3 evangelists. We see this as a wonderful opportunity to engage with a church leader who oversees a Lutheran community that lives in a predominantly Muslim country.
In supporting Bishop Steven, we hope to support the mission of the ELCM as they seek to explore how they bring the good news of Jesus to their own communities. They have just completed a decade with the goal of “Each one reach one each year”, highlighting their intention to reach out with Jesus’ love. In this, we share similar goals!
Bishop Steven will also attend ALC in Adelaide at various times over his PhD studies. We see these as great opportunities to engage with him, provide hospitality while he is apart from his wife Susan and four children, and encourage him in his studies and as bishop.
The ELCM faces similar issues as the LCANZ, namely the very low numbers of pastoral students pointing to growing shortages of pastors.
Our goals are to regularly connect on WhatsApp; pray for Bishop Steven as he completes his doctorate while continuing his full-time role as ELCM Bishop; build a mutual relationship of care trust and understanding; provide some financial support for his studies and travels to Australia and provide hospitality when he does visit Adelaide and is away from his family. This is a mutual two-way relationship, where we can learn and grow from his experiences as much as those we might offer to Bishop Steven.
This story was also published in the August 2022 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.
If you, your school or your congregation, would like to know how you can connect to the mission of God through a LCA International Mission partnership, you are invited to phone Erin on (08) 8267 7300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/start-a-partnership/
Read more stories about congregational partnerships at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/local-partners/congregations/