John Henry Fred Kuder
The Rev. Dr. John Henry Fred Kuder, first bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea, knew early on he wanted to devote his life to the ministry. Born on October 6, 1906, in Niagara Falls, New York, he was the eldest of three children. After completing one year of high school, John Kuder enrolled at Martin Luther College and Seminary, Buffalo, New York, which was the seminary of the Lutheran Synod of Buffalo. On August 5, 1928, the Lutheran Synod of Buffalo ordained him. He received and accepted a call to serve the parish of First St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, Hanover, Ontario. He served there until 1934.
Rev. Kuder became interested in serving as an American Lutheran Church (ALC) missionary after hearing an appeal from the church for persons to volunteer to serve in its New Guinea mission field. Rev. Kuder was commissioned an ALC missionary to New Guinea on February 18, 1934, and he and Mrs. Kuder began their term in New Guinea on May 17, 1934.
The Kuders served in New Guinea until World War II started. Mrs. Kuder and the children returned to the States in May 1941, but Rev. Kuder stayed on ministering to those living in the Highlands area of New Guinea. He stayed until 1943 and then returned to the States. In 1946, missionaries returned to the field and Rev. Kuder was placed in charge of mission operations. In 1953, mission operations of Germany, Canada, Australia, and the United States merged into one organization, the Lutheran Mission New Guinea (LMNG). Rev. Kuder served as its first president.
The ALC and two of its educational institutions chose to honor Rev. Kuder and his work first in 1952 when Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, granted Rev. Kuder an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree and again in 1979 when The American Lutheran Church (TALC) gave $350,000 to Trinity Lutheran Seminary to endow the John H.F. Kuder Chair of Christian Mission.
The Kuders served as ALC missionaries to Papua New Guinea until July 1973 when Rev. Kuder retired.
The records are from 1935-1986 with many undated. Types of records include typewritten correspondence; annual bishop, president, and superintendent reports; topical reports and papers; printed brochures and booklets; audiotapes; and photographs. The bulk of the records are topical reports, papers, and articles. These papers address a variety of subjects: education, secular involvement in New Guinea mission work, ecumenical nature of the growth of the church in New Guinea, and historical aspects of the mission, among others. Some are authored by Rev. Kuder, but most appear to have been written by other missionaries or scholars. This series includes 60 black and white and 45 color photographs of the PNG mission field. Most of these photographs are undated, but many are identified. The collection is also available on microfilm.