Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea grew out of the work of the Neuendettelsau Mission Society (1886) and the Rhenish Mission Society (1887), both from Germany. During World War II all missionaries left the area, and many mission stations, churches, schools and hospitals were damaged. In spite of this, the indigenous church leaders and local Christians stood firm in the work of the church. After the war the Lutheran churches in Australia and North America were asked to help reconstruct the church in Papua New Guinea, working together as the Lutheran Mission New Guinea. In 1956 expatriate missionaries and indigenous church leaders gathered and formed the present indigenous church. At the time of its founding the church was called Evangelical Lutheran Church of New Guinea (ELCONG), and its founding bishop was an expatriate missionary from the American Lutheran Church, USA. The first indigenous bishop was elected in 1973. In 1975, on the eve of the country's independence, the name of the church was changed to Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELCPNG). In 1977 the church was officially declared autonomous and another local Lutheran church organized by the Australian Lutheran Mission joined with the ELCPNG.
The ELCPNG believes that the church is the body of Christ on earth so that people can grow in faith and live as brothers and sisters. This function of the church is seen in the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments, bringing people closer to God so that they may inherit eternal life. The promise of the Holy Spirit strengthens this work of the church. The stated aims are :
- to strengthen fellowship among members - koinonia
- to strengthen the practice of worship - liturgia
- to strengthen the work of evangelism - martyria
- to strengthen the work of holding fast to the word of God as proclaimed by the Apostles - theology and confession - theologia
- to strengthen the work of service and welfare - diakonia.
The church has seven departments: evangelism, education, lands and properties, ministerial training, medical services, development services, finance. There are 16 districts divided according to geographical and population needs. Circuits cover smaller areas within the districts; within the circuits are the local parishes/congregations. The church runs 12 health centres, 170 primary schools, six high schools, one teacher training college, a nursing college, five girls' Bible schools, three seminaries and a training centre for evangelists.