Australian Congregation chips in for PNG Building Project

Members of St Paul’s/Redeemer Lutheran Parish at Hahndorf and Nairne are embarking on a hands-on venture that will support a mission project at Heldsbach, Papua New Guinea (PNG).

The parish aims to raise $10,000 to re-roof a dilapidated classroom that is used to train local evangelists. The project is ambitious; just one three-metre sheet of Zincalume roofing iron costs around $AU40. But the parish’s pastor, Peter Fulbohm, is confident that they can achieve this goal: ‘Our parish might be small in membership but we are ambitious in spirit!’.

The current resident German Lutheran missionary at Heldsbach, Pastor Tobias Jaeger, and the local people have been trying to support the ongoing work of the evangelism training component of the local church. The only building available for use, however, is a dilapidated classroom. Pastor Jaeger says, ‘This school is a vitally important part of the ministry to the Finschhafen communities. But white ants have invaded the wooden posts and beams of the classroom, the roof is rusting and leaking, and the wooden walls are rotting.’

So what does a ramshackle building in remote coastal PNG have to do with a congregation in the Adelaide Hills? Heldsbach station at Finschhafen had been home to Tony Gallasch, now a member at Hahndorf, for two years from 1965 to 1967. Tony worked in the Lutheran mission workshop as a mechanic and trained local young apprentices in the trade. Forty years on, Tony returned to the village with his wife Coral to show the New Guinean people that former mission workers have not forgotten them.

An invitation from the Lutheran bishop of PNG helped to initiate this venture, which is also supported by the LCA. Tony and Coral Gallasch, together with Pastor Jaeger, are coordinating a mission trip to work on the building project, leaving Australia on 6 September. They are seeking a volunteer with experience in the building trade to join the team. They are also asking members of the LCA to pray for the project.

PNG is a rugged mountainous country, which has over 400 different language groups and dialects, and so the task of spreading the gospel is enormous and challenging. Despite this difficulty and its lack of material and fiscal affluence, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea currently enjoys a membership of over 800,000.

If you, your school or your congregation, would like to know how you can connect to the mission of God through a LCA International Mission partnership, you are invited to phone Erin on (08) 8267 7300 or email For more information, go to

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