The Right Reverend Lu Guan Hoe is the new bishop of LCANZ overseas partner church Lutheran Church in Singapore (LCS).

Bishop Lu, who succeeds Bishop Terry Kee Buck Hwa, was installed as the third bishop of the LCS on 26 June. Ordained in 1992, Bishop Lu has served in pastoral ministry, as well on the Four Denominations Chinese Work Executive Council, the latter for more than 10 years. He studied at Trinity Theological College and Lutheran Theological Seminary in Hong Kong. He is married to Grace, and they have two daughters.

LCANZ Bishop John Henderson sent greetings for the installation: ‘For many years we have enjoyed a strong and encouraging relationship with you all in Singapore’, he said. ‘We thank God for you, and for our fellowship in Christ in our region. Bishop Lu Guan Hoe, may God hold you in the palm of his hand, lifting you up and inspiring you.’

Established in 1997, the LCS has established missions in China, Mongolia, Thailand and Cambodia, together with the International Seafarers Mission in Singapore.

Read more about Bishop Emeritus Terry Kee’s service in LCA International Mission’s magazine Border Crossings, included with this edition of The Lutheran and available at

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full

Bishop Deddy Purba of the GKPS, a partner church of the LCANZ, has asked our church to pray for his people as COVID-19 reaches crisis levels in Indonesia. About 700 GKPS members in the Java region alone have the virus. A number of pastors of the 230,000-member church have died, including one who was buried by pastors in full PPE on 11 July. ‘Please do pray for us’, Bishop Purba said. ‘May God have mercy and bless and protect us all, and those who are suffering will recover and survive.’ In 2019 Bishop Purba spent six weeks in Australia on an LCANZ Reconciliation Ministry scholarship.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full

In addition to Nancy Fox and Oscar Joppich, who featured in the July edition, fellow LCANZ members Kevin Kleemann and Shirley Smith have also been recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Kevin Kleemann, of Lobethal South Australia, and Shirley Smith, of Minyip Victoria, each has been recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

Kevin has been honoured ‘for service to the community of the Adelaide Hills’. A former chair of the council at St Johns Lutheran Church Woodside, where he is a member, Kevin is a life member and past president of Onkaparinga Lions Club. He has also volunteered for many Adelaide Hills organisations.

Shirley has been recognised ‘for service to the community of the Wimmera region’ in Victoria. She is the former chair, secretary and treasurer of the Parish Council of St Johns Lutheran Church Minyip, where she remains a member. A Justice of the Peace since 1994, Shirley has served a variety of community organisations.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full


Laying a sure foundation for faith

Regular devotions can be a great foundation for our home-worship life. They can help nurture our faith and even that of our families, as they strengthen our relationship with Jesus, increase our trust in God and our openness to the call of his Spirit. We pray that you will receive blessings from the devotional materials here and in the Church@Home resources collection collated and shared on the special webpage at There are also other faith-building and practical resources available through this webpage. If you have internet access and a printer, why not print some and mail or deliver them to those who may otherwise miss out?


Proverbs 18:10    

The Lord is a mighty tower where his people can run for safety.


These reflections are from a collection of devotions written for our LCANZ family and friends to help us to keep our eyes on Jesus. They can be used by families, small groups and individuals as part of daily faith practice. You can find these and more on the LCA website at

The secret of the kingdom of God by Kathy Matuschka

He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you’ (Mark 4:11a).

Read Mark 4:1–12.

This is confusing. Jesus tells his disciples the secret of the kingdom of God has been given to them, whereas the outsiders are told truths via parables. But Jesus’ disciples don’t seem to understand either Jesus’ straight talk or his parables!

So why does Jesus say that the secret of the kingdom of God has been given to them?

Today, when we refer to ‘the secret’ in this way, we tend to refer to information (for example, a secret ingredient) or a technique (for example, the steps of a process).

No wonder we have trouble noticing the obvious – that Jesus is not referring to information or a process but himself: Jesus is the secret. Jesus has been given to the disciples and you and me also.

Do you know the secret of the kingdom of God?

I hope so.

Jesus offers this key, or secret, as he tells this parable of the sower. He invites us not to look at the soil conditions but at him. In the kingdom of God, it’s not about trying our best to be fertile soil. It’s not about judging and correcting others when they seem to be choked up by the cares of life. The secret is unearthed not through our productivity but in receiving Jesus. He is the secret of the kingdom of God in all the ways he is present: in Christian community, in the written word of God, in the sacraments, in suffering, in paradoxes, ambiguity and unpredictability. The secret is gradually revealed as we live an ordinary life with its ups and downs, with our good days and our bad, our times of plenty and scarcity, in the presence of Jesus, in the power of God’s Holy Spirit and to the praise of our Creator.

Dear Jesus, thank you for the many ways you reveal yourself and your heart to me. By your Holy Spirit, please continue to teach and inspire me to know you and share you in a world that so needs to know this secret. Amen.

Sleeping through a storm by Pastor Joshua Pfeiffer

But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ (Mark 4:38).

Read Mark 4:35–41.

In today’s reading, we find the disciples amid a chaotic, fear-inducing storm. The wind was blowing ferociously, and the waves were crashing into their boat.

If you’ve ever been caught in a serious storm, you know this is no joke – let alone when you’re out on a huge body of water.

There is something truly awesome when the forces of nature are unleashed in their fury, and we realise just how little control we have over our own circumstances.

But during the storm, there is another problem. It troubles the disciples, perhaps even more than the physical elements, namely, the apparent lack of care and concern from Jesus. He’s asleep!

Isn’t it true that problems we have in life are made even worse by the reality that those close to us don’t seem to treat them with the same seriousness? This is even more so the case when it comes to God.

In response, Jesus exercises his divine power by speaking peace and calmness to the storm, as well as calling for greater faith from his disciples. They recognise they are in the presence of no mere man, and the awe previously evoked by the storm is redirected to Jesus himself.

The final question of the text is the main point: ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’

We know who he is. He is Christ Jesus, the Son of God, and our Saviour. He has come from the Father on a mission to restore peace to the chaos of this sinful world by dying, rising and sending his Spirit. Indeed, there is much in this world to fear with threats all around.

But let us never mistake the apparent inactivity of God for his indifference to our plight. On the contrary, no matter what we face, our Lord Jesus promises to be ‘in the boat’ with us, and he has all authority. Trust him.

Heavenly Father, my life sometimes feels like I’m in the midst of a storm. I fear, and I lack faith. Be near to me in your Son Jesus, and by the power of your Spirit, bring me comfort and strengthen my faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Hold our hands, Lord,
walk us through the loneliness
and the valley of our sorrows.
Hold onto us when we’re too afraid
to think about the future.
Let us lean on you, Lord,
when we’re too weary to continue.
Hold our hands through the night
until we see the light of dawn.

– Author unknown from LCA PRAYERS FOR A TIME OF CRISIS AND LOSS by Aub Podlich, at under the Pray@Home tab

Exodus 15:2        

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.

Who has authority? by Pastor Jim Strelan

He sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits (Mark 6:7).

Read Mark 6:1–13.

How are you with authority? There are lots of people who have authority, and generally, we accept that. The government, the police, parents and those in schools have a hierarchy of authority going from the top and moving down to even the student body. Martin Luther taught that all those earthly authorities are extensions of God. Whether they recognise it or not, they work on behalf of God.

Jesus sends his disciples out, and he gives them authority. Their authority is not to do with their own abilities. It’s not to do with how much they have or how much they own – ‘take nothing for the journey except a staff’ (Mark 6:8). It doesn’t depend on their training or particular expertise. They go with the authority of Jesus, and in that authority, they drive out demons and heal the sick.

How are you with authority in your faith journey? Sometimes we can think that it’s only certain people who have this kind of authority. We can think that it’s only the pastor who has that authority, and we insist the pastor must be of a particular gender. But the authority is not the disciples’. Without the authority of Jesus, the disciples would have been timid and ineffective. It is the authority of Jesus, and it’s the highest authority there is. He gives it, and they go out in his name and do things they wouldn’t have thought conceivable.

We are to respect all authority that acts for the common good. The authority of Jesus is the highest of all, and he gives it to those who want to serve on his behalf – even you.

Jesus, I acknowledge that all authority is yours. Thank you for empowering all those who act in your name, even me. Amen. 

Remember me by Chelsea Pietsch

This is what the Lord, the God of your father David says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you (2 Kings 20:5).

Read 2 Kings 20:1–7.

Hezekiah is ill and has just received word from the Lord, through the prophet Isaiah, that he is going to die. ‘Put your house in order’, he is told.

What would you do if you were told that your death was imminent? What actions would you take? To whom would you turn?

Hezekiah’s first response is to pray. He turns his face towards the wall, perhaps to hide his quivering lip. His prayer is not necessarily a plea for longer life, though maybe that is implied. He asks God to ‘remember’ how he has strived to lead a faithful and holy life. And after he says this, he weeps. Bitterly.

Hezekiah’s tears are not necessarily tears of despair or even fear, as one might first assume. Perhaps they are just a way to mark the end of life and the gravity of death. Death is confronting. It separates us from the world we know and the people we love. It is also ultimately unknowable – a mystery to those of us on this side of life.

Irrespective of Hezekiah’s motives, it is clear that God feels moved by his prayer. If God has decided death for the good king, then he has now changed his mind.

This reading reminds us of the active and reciprocal nature of prayer. God hears us. Sometimes, as in the case of Hezekiah, prayer apparently prompts God to change course.

Hezekiah’s prayer ‘remember me’ also gives us words to say when we ourselves are at the point of death. Do you remember another instance in Jesus’ life when someone cried out to him, ‘remember me’, at the point of death?

Dear Jesus, now and at the hour of our death, grant us the faith and courage to pour out our emotions first and foremost to you. And remember us. Amen. 

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full

Lutheran Theological Journal (LTJ) has teamed up with Lutheran Education Australia (LEA) to produce a supplementary issue with its latest edition, which explores the intersection of Lutheran theology with contemporary educational theories and practices.

The publication is a first for LTJ, which is a tri-annual publication of Australian Lutheran College’s (ALC) teaching staff. LTJ explores and applies the tradition of the church in ways that are fresh and that engage the issues of today, as well as providing a place where church workers can present a range of theological views that generate fruitful and respectful discussion.

Commenting on the supplement, LEA Executive Director Associate Professor Lisa Schmidt, who also served as guest editor, said: ‘I hope that these papers provide a launchpad for discussion and debate within school and early childhood service (ECS) communities and that dialogue informs local practice and decision-making.’

All Lutheran schools and ECSs have been supplied with copies of the supplement.

You can subscribe to LTJ at or by emailing or phoning 08 8360 7270.

Learn more about ALC’s service and community by signing up to its eNews at

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full

by Richard Fox

How do you cope with unexpected changes? Going through something that changes your life can be frightening and stressful. But Jesus can walk with you through the worry and uncertainty. Let him do the worrying for you. He can help you through unexpected changes, as the following quote from a Messages of Hope interview reminds us.

‘I had to change my lifestyle; I’ve had cancer. That’s made me look at life differently. But I knew when I was at hospital going through chemo, I just felt a strong presence that God was with me. From then on, I knew that you know, okay, don’t worry about change. Take it as it comes and let God do the worrying for you.’

People are hearing the reassurance of this interview on their radio and watching the short video on social media. You can see it at in the one-minute playlist. A podcast, booklet, script and website links which aim to offer help for those facing change are also available at

Another helpful link is:

Richard Fox is Director of Lutheran Media.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full

by Craig Heidenreich

Last month it was International Refugee Week. Such occasions offer a good opportunity to search our hearts about how we respond to people in this predicament.

Before joining the LCANZ staff in 2020, I worked in refugee settlement, so this topic is close to my heart. I got to walk next to people forcibly displaced from their homes, trying to survive until they felt ‘safe’ again, and I got a taste of God’s incredible love for them.

The statistics can be overwhelming – 80 million displaced, millions seeking asylum – but to God, every person is precious and has a name.

We can feel uncomfortable when we encounter others in crisis, but we can also be people of compassion.


Let me tell you a story about my friend Mwajemi.

I first met her about 10 years ago when she and her family arrived from the Congo. They had been in a refugee camp in Burundi, and if you can imagine something tough, double it and you would be closer to the circumstances they endured.

Mwajemi and Riziki arrived with five children, little English and no money. Somehow we became friends and asked them to share their first Christmas in Australia with us.

Recently we were at their home to celebrate the graduation of their daughter when Mwajemi decided to tell the many other Congolese people present about the impact our welcome had on her back then. It was quite humbling.

She recalled that Christmas Day at our home and said: ‘I saw a beautiful table laid out with food and thought to myself – there must be some other important guests coming today, but finally when no-one else arrived, I realised it was for us.’

It was a happy day, and we ate well and played games with the children. Later that afternoon my wife Beverley suggested that Mwajemi ‘escape’ with her to our bedroom so they could sit on the bed and have a ‘girl talk’.

Mwajemi said, ‘This was the first time a “mtu mweupe” (white person) let me lay my head on their pillow’. That brought a tear to my eye.


The whole family are now community leaders in Adelaide, employed helping other arrivals and we admire them greatly, but she graciously wanted to point back to a day when her heart began to be restored.

We felt so humbled that God does his thing and gives us the privilege to join in – flowing with him makes life worth living.

Do we have a space at our table, or a place for a head to rest? It might just change someone’s life.

Craig Heidenreich is the LCANZ’s Cross-Cultural Ministry Facilitator.

This story first appeared in the LCANZ’s Cross-Cultural Ministry Department eNews, which is sent regularly to supporters of this important local mission work. You can subscribe to this and other regular bulletins at

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full

by Jodi Brook and Christine Matthias

Early 2020 was an exciting time for Grow Ministries. We had just launched our Grow Disciples guide and curriculum as a new confirmation resource for the LCANZ.

In March we travelled to Western Australia to share this resource with the District Pastors Conference and were encouraged by their enthusiasm to try something new. This was to be the first of many trips like it we had planned in 2020.

However, as we all know, COVID-19 arrived, and all plans changed! As 2020 progressed and we gained glimpses of what our new world was going to be like, we began to develop online training and videos, not just for Grow Disciples but on other topics as well. In September, the New Zealand ministry leaders were willing to have us join them via video conferencing, and we did the best we could to highlight the relational approach of this resource while all feeling very isolated.

It has been with great delight and enthusiasm – and good timing – that we have been able to attend district pastors’ conferences for New South Wales-Australian Capital Territory (pictured above right), South Australia-Northern Territory (above) and Queensland (below). We have shared with pastors all around the country that discipleship in the 21st century is about developing relationships through intergenerational connections and engaging curriculum. This is what Grow Disciples aims to do. This can feel like a big change from the way we have always ‘done confirmation’ and it can seem hard to find the time in our busy calendar to adopt a new way of thinking.

However, Grow Ministries can help your congregation, pastors or lay leaders to imagine something new when discipling young people. If you need our help to work out how, please contact one of our team – email or phone 08 8267 7300.



‘The Grow Ministries presentation at pastors conference was a highlight for me. This is what ministry is all about, sharing the faith with each other … Can’t wait to try some new ideas out.’

Pastor Joel Cramer – The Ark Salisbury SA


‘Christine introduced us to Grow Disciples, with its key principles of learning through relationships. Now at St Paul’s in Wellington, we are looking how we might use this resource in our ministry to an up-and-coming group of adolescents. Thank you.’

Pastor Jim Pietsch – St Pauls Wellington NZ


‘It is so exciting to see a new resource not just for confirmation, but for a holistic and engaging approach to discipling young people and connecting them to their church community through authentic intergenerational relationships.’

Pastor Mat von Stanke – LifeWay Newcastle NSW


‘That was the best “last-session-of-the-day” presentation I have ever been a part of … it was a session of joy, enthusiasm and interaction that really promoted wellbeing in a way that was practically joyful, as we collectively hoped for an exciting future where confirmation is no longer a “graduation from the church” and instead a “graduation into the life of the church”.’

Pastor Ben Hentschke – Ipswich Lutheran Church Qld

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full

I have heard people say, ‘Change is good! It’s good to change’, and I agree we can’t stay stagnant in the way we do things just because it was always done that way in the past.

However, some change is difficult to understand or endure. And we may think that some things are simply too important to change. Some family members may mourn losing the joy of sitting down for a meal together to share our thoughts as we talk about the day’s happenings if this no longer happens. Perhaps for one reason or another, we no longer get the chance to share time with God over his word as a household.


I remember growing up that my family not only had a devotion time with prayer and questions about the devotion, but we also sang songs together from Rejoice and Sing (1974, LPH). Even those in the family who had trouble with singing sang from the heart and together we made a joyful noise to the Lord.

Spending time together at the table after a meal is a time I treasure. Now with my own family, we always spend time talking, sharing about the day, and growing together and in God’s word – but maybe not the singing! I pray that my children, when they have families, will see the importance of this, too.


Lutheran Tract Mission (LTM) has just produced a series of 12 tracts to be used by families to help them share, read, pray, talk and bless each other. I started to write them in 2000 when I was asked by the LCA’s Department of Liturgics to produce something for families. They were written, but we couldn’t find a way to produce these, but now they have been – in God’s timing. Entitled: ‘Growing Together as Family’ and endorsed by the LCANZ’s Commission on Worship, each 16-page tract enables four weeks of sharing time. The topics covered are My Family, Advent, Christmas, New Year/Epiphany, Lent, Easter, 10 Commandments, Apostles’ Creed, Baptism, Holy Communion, Lord’s Prayer and Pentecost/Trinity.

The tracts are available through the LTM website at – where there are more than 900 resources to be used to share God’s love, joy, comfort and peace.

Why not try them with your family? They are designed to help the family with their busyness of life, not to be a burden, but a joy. The devotion can be done all at once for the week or divided up over different nights. There is no singing, but feel free to add this as well!

Spending more time with Jesus and God’s word – now that’s a GOOD change!

Anne Hansen is Lutheran Tract Mission Development Officer.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full

The LCA will take part in this year’s National Church Life Survey (NCLS), with the General Church Board funding the full participation of all Lutheran congregations and parishes in Australia in the five-yearly poll.

To be held in October and November, the NCLS is a cooperative venture across all churches in Australia. It is the largest, longest-running study of church life in the world. It draws together the voices and aspirations of all Australian church attenders as they speak not only to each other but Australian society as a whole and the international community.

Churches of all sizes and traditions, in urban, rural and remote communities complete the NCLS as a way to reflect on their church’s health. The survey aims to be a life-giving resource for churches, to nurture their vitality and inform their decision-making, as they seek to be part of God’s mission where they are.


  1. Hear all the voices – Hear the attitudes and beliefs of all people at church.
  2. Make better choices – Use a credible evidence base to inform discussions and decisions.
  3. Find out things you need to know – Doing a nationwide survey helps churches to learn from each other and allows leaders to identify key trends.
  4. Find out the giftings and hopes of attenders – Harness their energy, motivation and hopes to move forward. Encourage all to contribute their gifts and skills.
  5. Take stock of your church’s health – Use the NCLS Research framework of church vitality to assess nine core qualities and three attendance measures.
  6. Identify your strengths and use them to grow – NCLS planning resources are strengths-based, the best place to start when making any change.
  7. See how you compare – Use this gauge to set realistic goals.
  8. Sustain and support leaders – Understand what contributes to sustainable and effective leadership practices in churches.
  9. Add to the profile of your denomination and the Australian church – Denominational leaders will use overall information about their churches to inform their pastoral and strategic leadership.
  10. Inform wider Australian society and beyond – Describe the story of modern Australian churches to wider society to challenge myths.


All LCA congregations will be contacted about the survey, including a letter from Dr Tania Nelson, the LCA coordinator for the 2021 NCLS, supporting their participation. Dr Nelson says the LCA is encouraging participation in both the attender survey for people 15 years and over and the child attender survey for eight to 14-year-olds.  She says church councils and members may wish to view the NCLS Research promotional video, which can be accessed at

The NCLS doesn’t include New Zealand congregations. The Christian Research Association of New Zealand conducts the Church Life Survey of New Zealand, the most recent of which was held in 2018.


NCLS attender surveys are available in English, Arabic, Chin (Burmese), Chinese, Dinka, Italian, Karen (Burmese), Korean, Tongan and Vietnamese. And, as well as paper survey forms, an online survey option is available for the attender survey.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full