ELCA companions in Myanmar
Who are the ELCA's companions in Myanmar?
Who is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Myanmar (Lutheran Bethelehem Church) and what are its ministries?
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Myanmar (Lutheran Bethlehem Church, LBC), a member of the Lutheran World Federation
, is located in the heart of the capital of Yangon. With 1,900 members, this church has a double heritage among Tamil and Telugu-speaking people from India. The church's engagement in social issues has long included concern for Indians who reside in Myanmar but who have not become citizens. Besides youth work and developing lay leadership, the LBC congregation continues to grow in its outreach program to the Indian communities beyond Yangon. Notable among recent ministries carried on by the congregation is outreach to persons forcibly resettled from Yangon to squalid camps outside the city.What is the Myanmar Council of Churches and what are its ministries?
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Myanmar is an active member of the ecumenical community in Myanmar and participates in the activities of the Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC)
. The MCC has several different departments through which Christians can work together and make a difference in a country where Christians are a tiny minority. The MCC works to educate churches on their common beliefs and strengthen visible unity. It holds seminars and consultations on evangelism. In the area of service and development, there is work on water projects such as digging wells, building pipelines, and building storage tanks.
The Myanmar Council of Churches Women's Department provides training in fruit processing, primary health care, management training, promotion of literature and art, and vocational skills for cottage industries. Youth programs work to promote the ecumenical spirit and break through barriers between denominations, between faiths, and between different cultures. Other areas of MCC service are education and communication, work with university students, and leadership development.
In recent years, four other Lutheran church bodies have emerged in Myanmar, serving different ethnic groups or located in different parts of the country. These churches have been supported by mission outreach from neighboring countries’ Lutheran churches.How do the companions in Myanmar and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America accompany one another in ministry?
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 the LBC and the Myanmar Council of Churches. Other international companions active in Myanmar are the Lutheran Church in Malaysia and the Lutheran Church in Singapore.Churchwide funding
through the ELCA Global Mission unit provides assistance to the LBC in support of its youth work and developing lay leadership. The ELCA works together with a number of partner communions in the US to monitor human rights issues and support the church in Myanmar through the Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC).
The ELCA also funds significant work through the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), a global communion of 140 churches (including the ELCA) and 68 million people that is grounded in a common Lutheran faith. The LWF provides space for Lutherans from around the world to share joys, challenges, and expertise as they seek the healing of the world. ELCA World Hunger funds help support the Department for World Service (DWS), the LWF’s relief and development arm, and the Department for Mission and Development (DMD), which focuses on holistic ministries through which the church participates in God’s mission to all creation.
ELCA funds help support LWF initiatives in Myanmar, such as:
Myanmar: the context where the churches in Myanmar serve
- Coordination of Mekong Mission Initiatives
- Leadership and training events
Almost 47.4 million people live in Myanmar. Burmese is the predominant language, but minority ethnic groups have their own languages as well. Primarily Buddhists (89%), other religions include Christian (4%) and Islam (4%).
Myanmar’s government is a military junta.While rich in resources, Myanmar suffers from intrusive government controls, inefficient economic policies, and rural poverty. The most productive sectors continue to be oil and gas, mining, and timber. Other areas are hampered by inadequate infrastructure, unpredictable import/export policies, deteriorating health and education systems, and corruption. A major banking crisis in 2003 disrupted the economy. Deforestation and industrial pollution of air, soil, and water are the largest environmental concerns. HIV/AIDS is a health concern as are inadequate sanitation and water treatment. A devastating cyclone in 2008 devastated areas close to the sea and the government’s lack of response and restrictions on relief agencies was criticized by other countries.
For more information on Myanmar, type “Myanmar" into an online search engine or visit: