Sharing and learning as partners

The Lutheran Church of Australia and many of its congregations have had a long history of working with our brothers and sisters in the Lutheran churches of Indonesia.

Individual congregations have worked with specific churches there in supporting the work of Indonesian Lutherans with gifts, donations of money and equipment. The LCA has also had a tradition of supporting Indonesian pastors with further training at Australian Lutheran College (ALC), supporting the ministries of deacons, and in supporting Indonesian education systems, as can be seen by the pictured plaque.

However, the capacity of the people in Indonesia to maintain equipment or repair buildings has meant that many gifts have a limited life. Hence, since 2012 support from LCA International Mission has focused on Indonesian Lutheran schools and the development of the capacity of their school leaders.

The programs have targeted developing the skills of principals and their staff to work collaboratively with their communities on school improvement planning. In most cases, the operation of schools is very hierarchical, with little staff or student engagement in decision-making. The concept that the students and staff know what needs improving in their school is not readily understood by the principals. Indeed, one teacher admitted during a planning exercise that it was the first time in her 15 years at the school that she had been asked her opinion on anything.

One of the first exercises in any workshop is to rearrange the furniture and to demonstrate how a group can work collaboratively to produce the required outcomes. It is noticeable during workshops that conversations and laughter increases as the participants become comfortable sharing with each other.

Evaluations of the workshops always bring positive comments from the participants about their experiences of group work.

A second focus has been on establishing sister-school partnerships with our schools in Australia. Leaders from Indonesia have attended Lutheran Education Australia (LEA) conferences in Brisbane and Adelaide.

In March of 2017, 12 leaders from six Lutheran schools in Australia visited schools in Indonesia with a view of setting up sister-school relationships. The process has been guided by the experience gained by Navigator College, Port Lincoln, South Australia, through its successful sister-school partnership with Gereja Kritsen Protestan Simalungan (GKPS) School in Pematang Raya, in north Sumatra.

Since Navigator formed its sister-school partnership in 2012, six schools have begun partnerships and are planning for visits in 2018. There are now eight Lutheran schools from Australia collaborating with schools in Indonesia. Our goal is to have every school that teaches Indonesian as part of its academic program to be involved with a sister-school relationship.

This story was also published in the March 2018 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

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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