International educational partnerships strengthened and grow through ACLE5

At the invitation of Lutheran Education Australia and LCA International Mission, principals and teachers of some of our partner churches in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia enthusiastically joined with others who gathered in Adelaide for ACLE5 2017.

Nine of the international guests came from Lutheran schools in North Sumatra, and represented schools which have been participating in the LCA International Mission’s educational reform consultations which have been taking place over the past 5 years. Most of these schools have also begun to form partnerships with some of the Australian Lutheran schools. Papua New Guinea sent a representation of eight educators from across their Lutheran school system. The two educators from the Lutheran Church in Malaysia (LCM) attending ACLE5 have both spent time in Australia visiting and learning about Lutheran educational practices in LEA Early Learning Centres over the past twelve months. With the support and encouragement of the leadership of the LCM Ms Denise Gan and Ms Yaw Choo are tasked with the responsibility of establishing a new early learning centre at the Mont Kiara church complex in Kuala Lumpur in the later part of this year and support their Church as it seeks to develop a Lutheran education curriculum and system within the Lutheran Church of Malaysia.

Partnerships are about relationships and ACLE 5 provided a great opportunity for these face to face exchanges and a strengthening of relationships. As partnership between the people in the Lutheran schools in these three countries and Australian Lutheran schools continue to develop and expand, it becomes clearer with each visit that each system and community has strengths and wisdom to share with the other. The partnerships are growing with respect for each other and with a deepening understanding of what we share in common as brothers and sisters in Christ and what we can learn from each other.

It was in the framework of these growing partnerships that we started gathering on the weekend before the ACLE5 to build relationships between us.

The first relationship building process was to find warm clothing for 18 people who rarely experience cold weather and leafless trees! One of the first trips together was to Glenelg on a blustery, wet and freezing day. Walking the jetty and taking selfies as the cold blustery wind pushed us around was, in hindsight, the perfect way to break the ice between the delegates.

On the day prior to ACLE5, we joined in the worship service and activities, farewelling the walkers at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, Hahndorf as they made their way to Beaumont for the ALWS Walk My Way event. This also gave the Indonesian guests an opportunity to showcase their beautiful voices, as they sang several songs in their own language at the conclusion of the service.

Mr John Proeve, Director for Lutheran Education South Australia, Northern Territory, Western Australia (LESNW) introduced us to three Lutheran schools from the LESNW district. The first was St. Michael’s Lutheran School, Hahndorf and included a brief introduction to the oldest continuing Lutheran school in Australia, established in 1839.

From there we travelled to Lobethal Lutheran School. The international guests felt a connection at both the St. Michael’s and Lobethal Lutheran schools and their small, humble beginnings, and they were able to gain ideas and vision for their own schools and their contexts. Principal of Lobethal Lutheran School, Mick Emmett, gave an informed tour of the school, established by the Lobethal Lutheran congregation in 1842, specifically to care for the children of its members. The tour included the viewing of the blend of the old and the new classrooms, which combine both those which served the school in the early years, and the more modern and spacious areas built in recent years. Included in the visit to the Lobethal Lutheran school was the opportunity to view the Lobethal Archives and Historical Museum next door, gaining an understanding of the early German and English history of South Australia. They were also able to view some early Aboriginal artefacts.

Finally, we were welcomed, fed and given a tour of Immanuel Lutheran College, Novar Gardens by Principal Kevin Richardson. The tour included the student-designed Senior School area, the impressively equipped music, technology, art, sport and home economics areas. The Indonesian guests were especially excited to meet Dr Neville Highett at Immanuel, as a former principal of the school and now the LCA International Mission education consultant actively involved in the support of education reform in schools of the Lutheran Churches in Indonesia.

Educational, personal and spiritual hopes and dreams were shared throughout the week over meals, bus trips, walks, and conversations as we unpacked issues that were raised at ACLE5.

In many cases challenges and joys are similar – love and respect for the children we educate and a desire to use our God given teaching gifts to the best of our ability. In other ways the cultural differences challenged us to see and acknowledge the different ways we achieve this.

The time spent with our ACLE5 guests provided each of us with the opportunity to walk alongside our near neighbours in order to learn, experience and grow, and to discuss educational issues, but it was more than this. Through openness and a willingness to listen and hear another’s journey, we saw God’s work and blessings through different eyes.

Different systems, different countries, different cultures – similar tasks, goals and purpose – loved in grace by the same Lord and Saviour.

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

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