Papua New Guinea
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea
Who is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea and what are its ministries?
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELC-PNG), a member of the Lutheran World Federation
, has its headquarters in the city of Lae. The largest Protestant church in Papua New Guinea, its membership is approximately 900,000, with congregations in all parts of the country. Pastors are educated in three seminaries. The ELC-PNG is divided into seventeen districts, each headed by a district president. Districts are comprised of circuits, parishes and congregations.
Evangelism, education and health services are three main ELC-PNG ministries. Since 1992, missionaries from Madagascar and the Philippines have served in Papua New Guinea as medical doctors and pastors. The church has departments for evangelism, education, ministerial training, medical services, finance, Lutheran development (human resources) and lands and property services.
Wall art at one of the local ELC-PNG congregations.
The church has three seminaries for training pastors. Two offer instruction in Pidgin and one in English—Martin Luther Seminary in Lae, which offers more advanced programs. The church also has a teachers' college, eight high schools, and over 180 elementary schools.
The church is working hard to develop leadership for the future. Several pastors are studying either abroad or in Papua New Guinea. In evangelism, the ELC-PNG is active in developing a community approach. Pastors are trained to preach, lead worship, and distribute the sacraments. They are also taught agricultural skills, education, and basic health.
PNG Singsing - a ceremony of culture and dance.
The ELC-PNG has an active Woman's Department. In general conferences, leadership training schools, and girls' training, women are nourished in their faith and given instruction in hygiene, nutrition and child care. Tambourine bands are becoming popular. They give a new opportunity for self-expression as women and youth combine Christian songs with traditional dance movements.
Health care is an important part of the ministry of the ELC-PNG, especially in rural areas. The church operates several hospitals, numerous health centers, aid posts, and maternal and child health care programs. Lutherans work in several city hospitals as medical personnel and chaplains. A school of nursing has a national reputation for excellence.How do the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of 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 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea. This relationship is deepened and extended by these relationships through the ELCA Companion Synods program:
- the Islands District with the Virginia Synod
- the Papua District with the NorthWest Lower Michigan Synod
- the Yabim District with the North Carolina Synod
- the Kotte District with the Central States Synod
through the ELCA Global Mission unit supports key priorities identified by the ELC-PNG. The ELCA has one mission personnel in Papua New Guinea.
The ELCA accompanies the ELC-PNG by providing supportive short-term and technical personnel that build up the leadership capabilities of the church. It also provides some basic support for health needs as well as vulnerable women and children. Grants of monies pooled with overseas partners make important contributions to interchurch work and to institutional subsidies.
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 World Hunger funds help support LWF Department for Mission and Development work in Papua New Guinea such as:
Papua New Guinea: the context in which the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea serves
Papua New Guinea is a constitutional monarchy with parliamentary democracy that gained its independence from an Australian-administered UN trusteeship September 16, 1975. Over 5.4 million people inhabit Papua New Guinea. Pidgin is the official language while more than 700 indigenous languages are spoken, and 1-2% of the population speaks English. Indigenous beliefs (34%) represent the largest spiritual group, with large populations of Roman Catholics (22%) Lutherans (16%) and other Protestants (28%) as well. Lutherans are well represented in the Parliament, with 38 Lutherans among the 110 parliamentarians.
The economy is largely agricultural (especially coffee and copra crops). More than five million Papuans live by subsistence farming but farming for commercial trade is limited by the absence of a good transportation network. Copper, gold and silver mining are important, but are dwarfed by the potential of large, untapped oil reserves. The development of large-scale industry is hampered by the rough terrain, illiteracy and the number of languages spoken. Poverty and malnutrition are of concern.
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