Building the backbone

For several decades Lutheran women from Australia and other countries served in Papua New Guinea (PNG) training schools and as teachers in the districts and churches of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELCPNG). Mainly they were deaconesses, teachers or the wives of expatriate staff serving as missionaries. Many served in Meri Wok (similar to the LCA’s lay ministry, but exclusively for women).

These days, ministry among women is carried out fully by the many and dedicated women of the ELCPNG. The women are the backbone of faith formation, building strong foundations of faith in the women themselves and through them in the families and communities of ELCPNG.

Recently Narelle Bowden-Ford (former Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) staff member who served in PNG) has provided expertise for the development of Meri Wok’s five-year strategic plan. Lutheran Women of Australia (LWA) have financially supported the new curriculum, which is being developed for use within the five Women’s Work training schools of ELCPNG.

LWA also support the LCA’s partnership with ELCPNG through the provision of funds for solar panels for rural and remote health clinics, scholarships for the education of children of pastors, and practical birthing kits for mothers in remote regions of PNG.

The LCA continues to walk with the people of ELCPNG through the work of Pastor Greg Schiller at Ogelbeng Seminary, Nick Schwarz at the Melanesian Institute, and Hanna Schulz as a Bible translator. It also assists through capacity-building in education through the Lutheran Education Department of ELCPNG, scholarships for PNG ministry staff, support for seminaries’ libraries, and support for the office of the bishop.

This story was also published in the November 2014 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

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