ELCA companions in Malaysia
Who are the ELCA’s companions in Malaysia?
Who is the Basel Christian Church and what are its ministries?
Women praying at the first National Lutheran gathering of the Lutheran Church of Malaysia
The Basel Christian Church of Malaysia (BCCM)
, a member of the Lutheran World Federation
, is located in Sabah, east Malaysia. There are some 55,000 members in more than 120 congregations served by more than 110 pastors. While traditionally, ministries have been in Hakka Chinese, there has been outreach among tribal groups (Bamiputra) since 1973. Some 50 Bamiputra pastors now serve the BCCM’s 18,000 Bamiputra members. New areas include Mandarin Chinese and English-language ministries. Pastors and church workers, both women and men, are trained at Sabah Theological Seminary
. STS is the first seminary in Malaysia to use the Behasa Malaysia (BM) language among its teaching languages.
A new Lutheran Study Center at the seminary opened in March 2012. This center will help develop Lutheran-specific curriculum and programs that will help root people in a Lutheran identity, contextualized in today's reality in Asia. The center will be a resource not just for the seminary, but also for the churches in Malaysia and Singapore, and for the whole region. A missionary professor from the ELCA is scheduled to be a part of this center.
The BCCM has long been involved in education, with several schools originally established with the help of missionaries from the United States. Several schools for immigrant children have been established in recent years. Outreach among the Bamiputra has grown enormously in recent years, though challenges include transportation into very remote areas, working with more than 30 language groups, and maintaining cultural and religious identity.
Mission work beyond Sabah involves Hakka-speaking ministries in west Malaysia. Outside the country, the BCCM has worked among the Hakka people in Guangdong Province, southern China. This outreach, accompanying the local Chinese church, includes training and education programs. Beyond this, Chinese ministries have been established in Madagascar and Australia, in cooperation with the Malagasy Lutheran Church and Lutheran Church in Australia respectively. Who is the Lutheran Church in Malaysia and what are its ministries?
Rev. Phillip Baker, Asia Pacific Regional Representative for Theological Education with Bishop Phillip Lok of the Lutheran Church in Malaysia
The Lutheran Church in Malaysia (LCM)
, a member of the Lutheran World Federation, is centered around Kuala Lumpur in West Malaysia. The LCM has about 7,000 members in more than 35 congregations. This church included Singapore in its territory until a separation in 1998. By 1978, however, all established congregations in the LCM had attained financial self-support, and together assumed support for the administrative budget of the LCM central office. Pastors for the LCM (both men and women) are trained at Malaysia Theological Seminary
, as well as in Singapore at Trinity Theological College
and Singapore Bible College
; all are interdenominational seminaries.
The LCM has a vital and growing mission outreach program, as the church has set a priority on evangelism with ethnic Chinese in West Malaysia. Ministry has been established in Penang in the northwest and Jahore Baru, Malaysia's southern-most city, which adjoins Singapore. New ministries are being developed in other cities as well even as the church extends its ministry among the Orang Asli people, who live primarily in the highlands area of central Malaysia in primitive conditions. Building churches, training pastors and leaders, and scholarships for children are among ways in which this is accomplished. The Orang Asli conference attained self-sustainability in 2012
The mission of the LCM beyond Malaysia includes support for churches and communities in Myanmar, China, Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan, and Madagascar. How do the ELCA and the companions in Malaysia accompany one another?
Through the churchwide ELCA Global Mission unit, the ELCA relates to and is in bilateral relationship with over 80 companion churches and institutions. The ELCA Global Mission unit stewards a church-to-church relationship with these companions.
The relationships are deepened and extended by the LCMs relationship, through the ELCA Companion Synods program, with the Southeastern Synod and the BBCM's relationship with the Pacific Synod.Churchwide funding
through the ELCA Global Mission unit supports key priorities identified by the companions. The ELCA has one mission personnel in Malaysia.
Primary assistance has been in theological education and leadership development, leading to capacity building within the church. Beginning in 2009, the ELCA will have a Young Adults in Global Mission program
in Sabah, receiving the gifts of the BCCM as young adults share their gifts through service within the church.
With the LCM, the ELCA helps to support the LCM ministry among the Orang Asli people. These aboriginal people, some 50,000 in number scattered over a wide interior area, live very much in the style of life followed for centuries, although in recent years some government educational and health services have been provided.
From both churches, the ELCA receives a deepened understanding of what it means to be in mission in a Muslim context.Malaysia: the context in which the LCM and BCCM serve
LCM ministry among indigenous peoples
Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy that won its independence from the United Kingdom on August 31, 1957. Almost 24.4 million people live in Malaysia. Behasa Malaysia is the official language while English, Chinese dialects, Tamil, and indigenous languages are spoken as well. The primary religion in Malaysia is Islam, but Buddhism, Hinduism, Daoism, Sikhism, Christianity and traditional beliefs are part of the religious landscape.
Malaysia, a middle-income country, transformed itself from 1971 through the late 1990s from a producer of raw materials into an emerging multi-sector economy. Growth is almost exclusively driven by exports. Healthy foreign exchange reserves, low inflation, and a small external debt add to Malaysian economic stability. The economy remains dependent on continued growth in its top export countries—US, China, and Japan.
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