We may think of cross-cultural or multiethnic ministry as a relatively recent focus of the LCANZ. But that’s far from the case, as a joyful anniversary celebration held in Brisbane this winter shows.

The first Lutheran Scandinavian-language service in Queensland was held on 26 June 1872 and was commemorated with worship and a jubilee celebration exactly 150 years later at St Andrews Lutheran Church, Brisbane City.

The original Danish-language service was led by Pastor Christopher Gaustad, a Norwegian missionary and Pietist, who was gifted with languages. He trained in Norway and Berlin, he also served in India.

Multiple languages were used during the Jubilee 150th service. The Lord’s Prayer was printed in Icelandic, Norwegian, North Sami, Swedish, Finnish and Danish for the consecration of the Lord’s Supper, while Bible readings were given in Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish. The current St Andrews pastor, Finnish-born Tommi Vuorinen, who also serves the Finnish congregation at Woolloongabba in Brisbane, was on leave at the time of the anniversary, so one of the congregation’s former shepherds, Pastor Stephen Nuske, preached and led worship.

As well as being followed by a Scandinavian high morning tea, the service included music from two contrasting wind instruments – the didgeridoo, played by Braden Chambers, and the Bethlehem Memorial Organ, built by the late Danish-Australian Knud Smenge, and played by Mark Boughen. A special canticle was written for the occasion with text by Pastor Stephen and a setting by Mark Boughen. It was sung by Owen Dixon. Braden’s grandfather Uncle Joe Kirk gave the Welcome to Country for those attending, while a significant hymn for the day was ‘Built on the Rock the Church doth stand’, which features in the Australian, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic Lutheran hymnals.

Pastor Stephen points out that today the LCANZ not only includes Scandinavian worshipping communities, but it also has links with outposts of the Scandinavian Mission to Seafarers in South-East Asia through LCA International Mission. ‘This is an important link’, he says. ‘Cross-cultural ministry is not new. The four corners of the world intersect in the city. “They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God”’ (Luke 11:29).

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