ELCA companions in Thailand
Who are our companions in Thailand?
Who is the Church of Christ in Thailand and what are its ministries?
A weaving Class at the New Life Center
The Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT)
, the largest and strongest Protestant church in Thailand, is composed of Thai, Chinese, Karen, and English-speaking congregations. The CCT has been a member of the World Council of Churches since 1948 and has 130,000 members.
The church runs two universities, two theological seminaries, seven hospitals, a rehabilitation institute for leprosy patients and other physically-disadvantaged persons, about 30 schools, a Student Christian Centre, and is entering into a ministry for the very young and the elderly. The McGilvary College of Divinity at Payap University
is one of the two theological training centers. Payap works closely with the CCT and local churches so that it may serve the needs of CCT churches and schools, especially in training Christian administrators and church musicians.
Social work is carried out in the slum communities of Bangkok, and agricultural and community development programs are conducted in rural areas. The church took the initiative in organizing relief work among Cambodian refugees in the 1970s and, in cooperation with other agencies, it still plays a part in the work among refugees, now mainly from neighboring Myanmar.
AIDS is a huge and growing problem in Thailand, primarily because of the "sex industry" which exploits girls and women. The CCT Aids Ministry has worked to develop support for home-based care for people with AIDS. The approach is a holistic one, seeking to assist people in realizing the abundant life which is Jesus' gift, in body, mind and spirit.What is the Mahidol University, Institute of Religion, Culture and Peace and what are its ministries?
Mahidol University’s doctoral program in Religious Studies draws students from Thailand and other Southeast Asian nations to study with Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim scholars. It is able to influence society in general through continuing education for religious teachers and by providing exhibits and seminars on religion and culture. The ELCA has provided personnel in years past, including volunteers teaching Christian theology, and some scholarship assistance for faculty development. The ELCA has also assisted in developing links to Christian academic institutions such as the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, so cooperation may be developed. Involvement with Mahidol University provides an important opportunity to explore ways to relate to the Theravada Buddhist community in South Asia.What is the New Life Center and what are its ministries?
The New Life Center
project in Chiang Mai helps young women and girls from ethnic minority communities in northern Thailand. These women have few opportunities for education and as a result are particularly at risk for exploitation by the commercial sex industry.
The target group is threefold: girls/young women who are at risk of being sold into the sex industry, girls/young women who otherwise would not get any education, and girls/young women who have been rescued from brothels and/or other crisis situations.
During their stay at these different centers the young women study at three education centers in the evening. During the day they learn different vocational skills.How do the companions in Thailand 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 companions in Thailand.Churchwide funding
through the ELCA Global Mission unit supports key priorities identified by the companions. The ELCA has sent long-term faculty as well as short-term English teachers to McGilvary College of Divinty at Payap University. The ELCA has also supported Payap's programs relating to communication and women’s leadership, and the development of faculty through scholarships for current junior faculty.
The ELCA also funds significant work through the Lutheran World Federation. The Lutheran World Federation, with a membership of 140 churches (including the ELCA) and 68 million people, 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.
In Thailand, the ELCA funds help support such LWF initiatives as:
- Coordination of Mekong Mission Initiatives
- Leadership and training events
Thailand: the context where the Church of Christ in Thailand serves
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with more than 64.6 million residents. Thai is their primary language, while English is considered the secondary language of the elite. Other ethnic and regional dialects are also used. Thailand is primarily Thai (75%) with some Chinese (14%) and various other ethnic groups (11%). Religions practiced in Thailand are Buddhism (95% and Islam (5%), with Christianity, Hinduism, and other beliefs practiced by a little less than 1% of the population.
Thailand has experienced high economic growth, slowed by the December 2004 tsunami. Economic concerns center on recovering tourism, new investment, and the destructive nature of a possible avian flu epidemic. HIV/AIDS is a major problem that can be traced to the “sex industry” which exploits girls and women, although Thailand has had some success in lowering the incidence of HIV/AIDS in recent years.
For up-to-date information on Thailand, type “Thailand” into an online search engine or visit: