Malagasy Lutheran Church (FLM)
(Fiangonana Loterana Malagasy, FLM)
The Lutheran faith was brought to Madagascar by Norwegian and American missionaries. The Norwegian Missionary Society began its work in the centre and the south of the country in 1866, and the Mission of the American Lutheran Church in the south-west in 1888. The church grew and spread, and became autonomous as one body in 1950, under the name Malagasy Lutheran Church and under Malagasy responsibility and leadership. The FLM is in the forefront of the preaching of the gospel and evangelization campaigns, and especially the work of the revival movement against the worship of idols and the traditions and beliefs that contradict the gospel. Its pastors are trained and prepared at six Lutheran theological seminaries and the Lutheran Theological Faculty which belong to the church, and some receive their training and preparation abroad.
The FLM is organized in 20 regional synods. The national synod is the body that holds the work of the church together. The national synod committee meets every four years and has the authority to decide on all matters related to worship and the spiritual life of the church, the administration, the departments and associations, and the mission of preaching and announcing the gospel that is carried out by the church. The executive board implements the decisions, under the leadership of the president and the general secretary who both work full-time at the national office.
Social work, development and evangelism are held together by the FLM and constitute together its witness in society. The church continues and expands the work that was started by the missionaries who were the pioneers. It runs seven hospitals and 25 dispensaries throughout the country, two leprosy hospitals, and schools for the deaf. Eighty percent of the population of Madagascar are peasants. The development work of the FLM is an important means to reach the people in their daily life and bring them to Jesus. The church has three large farm schools, and a training programme for peasants aimed at promoting agriculture and animal husbandry. It runs many primary and secondary schools, and is planning to set up a Lutheran university in the south of the island.
The cooperation with other churches through the Protestant Federation and the Council of Churches is very important for the FLM, especially in the areas of social work and evangelization. The church pays much attention to its participation in ecumenical efforts and the formation of its members who are entrusted with responsibilities in this area of work. The present government of Madagascar provides space for the churches and accepts their collaboration. This is also an opportunity for announcing the gospel of Jesus Christ.