In a first for the LCANZ, the church’s next Convention of General Synod will be held in two parts – an online meeting in October 2021 and an in-person meeting in 2022.

LCANZ Bishop John Henderson announced the change in a special eNews to the church on 10 June after the General Church Board (GCB) decided on the move on 9 June. The six-day face-to-face convention scheduled to be held in Melbourne from 28 September to 3 October will not go ahead.

‘After making every effort to hold the Convention by the usual means, ongoing uncertainty about travel restrictions, exacerbated by the recent lockdown in Victoria and its potential flow-on impact in parts of Queensland and New South Wales, meant the time had come to make the very difficult call on a COVID contingency plan’, Bishop Henderson said.

Taking into account the extraordinary circumstances relating to COVID-19, the GCB unanimously agreed to hold the 20th regular Convention of General Synod in two parts: an online meeting in early October 2021, which will then be adjourned until the meeting resumes in person at a location to be determined in September or October 2022.

‘The GCB has adopted this approach, a first for the LCANZ, so we can keep the regular constitutional cycle of three-year synodical terms and make the necessary decisions in a timely and orderly way, allowing proper opportunity for consideration and discussion’, Bishop Henderson said. ‘With the risks to travel at present, that will mean an online format in 2021 and an in-person meeting in 2022, God willing.’

The 2021 online component of the Convention, likely to be held over two days, will be for essential business items necessary for the regular transition into the next synodical term, such as the election of the LCANZ bishop, assistant bishop and GCB; board and council reporting; and voting on essential constitutional and other matters that for various reasons cannot be held over until 2022.

Delegates will receive the Book of Reports, which also contains proposals to General Synod, before the 2021 online meeting.

The 2022 in-person component of the meeting, likely to be held over two to three days, will be for matters of a theological or doctrinal nature and the proposals that will require robust ‘live’ debate in the usual Synod format.

‘The planning team will do its best to make sure all delegates can participate in both the online and in-person components of the Convention’, Bishop Henderson said.

The General Pastors Conference (GPC), scheduled for 6–8 July 2021 in Tanunda South Australia, will now take place as an online conference on Tuesday 6 July.

GPC will still need to ensure that nominations for LCANZ bishop and assistant bishop reach the opening session of Convention of General Synod in 2021 and that its advice on theological and doctrinal issues reaches delegates suitably in advance of the second meeting of Synod in 2022.

Regarding General Synod, GCB was mindful of the financial risk to the LCANZ and its parishes in the event of a snap COVID lockdown in Melbourne. Also taken into account was the considerable burden a physical Convention of General Synod in Melbourne would place on ‘already exhausted leaders, pastors and people in Victoria, the state that has borne the brunt of the COVID pandemic in Australia’.

‘In making this weighty decision, the GCB has considered not only the potential impact on delegates and others but also the risk to the wider church’, Bishop Henderson said. ‘While the financial risk is one factor, there is also the possibility that any decisions made by a depleted Convention of General Synod might later be contested as not being fully legitimate.’

As details about the online component of the convention become available, registered delegates will be informed via the Synod eNews, and there will be regular updates in LCA eNews for the wider church.

Bearing in mind that specific details for the new format for Convention of General Synod are not yet available, if you have questions or concerns, please contact the General Synod planning team via

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by Nick Schwarz

When you consider buying something, what factors do you weigh up? Necessity? Price? Quality? Style? Features? Benefits or usefulness?

These considerations and others may come into play whether we are looking to buy a small item or service such as a book, fresh food, movie tickets or a haircut; a more costly purchase such as a mobile phone, household appliance, furniture or holiday; or even when we make a major financial commitment in buying a car or house.

Advocates for ‘ethical shopping’ encourage us to also weigh up the ‘ethical status’ of things we buy. They say that some products are morally better than others and that where possible, we should choose them.

By ‘ethical status’ they most commonly mean how ‘responsible’ a product is in terms of its:

  1. environmental impact (at all stages of the life of the product);
  2. social impact (its effect on people, relationships and morals); and
  3. corporate governance (does the producer of this product deal honestly and fairly with suppliers, employees, contractors and consumers?)

How nice that by just shopping we can benefit people and the environment!

Christians look first to Jesus’ life and teachings and the Bible more generally for guidance on ethical matters. Concerning business practices, the Bible teaches that:

  • bosses are to treat their workers with respect and pay them fairly (see Deuteronomy 24:14,15; Colossians 4:1; James 5:4). (Slavery was common and accepted as part of life in biblical times but is never presented in the Bible as ‘God-approved’. The prophets warn that God will judge harshly masters who treat their slaves as mere possessions and exploit and abuse them. Christians have always been at the forefront of campaigns to eradicate slavery);
  • primary producers are to take care of the land and waters so that they remain fruitful (see Genesis 2:15; Leviticus 25:2–5); and
  • merchants are to deal honestly with their suppliers and customers (see Deuteronomy 25:13–16; Proverbs 11:1).

Jesus weighed up our lives and found them so valuable that he gave his life to save us. Now he calls on us to love others as he loves them. He wants us to help people in need – including people who are strangers to us and people we are accustomed to thinking of as enemies (see Luke 10:25–37).

Jesus said that God will bring into his glorious presence forever people who follow his example of helping the needy, but people who could help, but don’t, risk being left out (see Matthew 25:31–46).

Lutherans also look to the confessions of our faith for ethical guidance. In Martin Luther’s explanations of the Fifth, Seventh and Eighth Commandments (against killing, stealing and lying) in his Small Catechism and Large Catechism, he says that in positive terms, these commandments call on us to treat our neighbours with dignity, respect, honesty and fairness.

So, it seems we can make a good case for Christians to demonstrate love for their neighbours and care for God’s earth by considering the environmental and social impacts of the products and services they buy and the way the companies that produce them do business.

However, discerning a product’s ethical status is not always easy or straightforward. Sometimes it is confusing and disheartening. Let’s consider three ways that this can be so, then look at the motivation for shopping ethically.


Producers know that ethically minded shoppers are a growth sector with substantial spending power, so they advertise their products’ ethical virtues prominently. Some make environmental claims, e.g. ‘organic’, ‘non-toxic’, ‘unbleached’, ‘compostable’, ‘biodegradable’, ‘recyclable’, ‘sustainable’, ‘earth-friendly’, ‘climate-friendly’ and ‘ozone layer friendly’.

Some describe how well they treat their suppliers and workers or how well they treat any animals involved in production, e.g. ‘fair trade’, ‘slavery-free’, ‘child-labour free’ or ‘cruelty-free’. Some tell us that money from the sale of the products will go to good causes, such as schooling for poor children, cancer research, or the preservation of endangered species.

How can we trust that these claims are true? Fortunately, Australia and New Zealand have advertising standards and consumer protection bodies to investigate suspicious marketing claims and penalise companies for falsely labelling products with ethical certification.

We can’t be certain that every claim is absolutely true, but we can be confident that they aren’t all bogus. If our photocopy paper is certified ‘made from plantation timber’, that is very likely true.

We live in a fallen world, however. If we look hard enough, products marketed as ‘ethical’ often turn out to be tainted in some way.

Research the climate-friendly electric car’s batteries and discover mining-related social and environmental harms in poor countries. Research claims of carbon offsets and find creative accounting.

Somewhere along a product’s life from ‘cradle to grave’ there will likely be some ethical hiccups.

We will never have all the information about products we need to assure ourselves that ethical claims are absolutely true. Still, that shouldn’t make us throw up our hands and reject ethical considerations as a waste of time.


We can also find ourselves stuck trying to decide between products that make different ethical claims. There may be no obvious ‘right’ answer to the question of which claims carry the most ethical weight. For example, should I prioritise environmental responsibility by buying my fruit and veggies from local growers (on ‘food miles’ grounds) or from growers who farm organically (on soil protection grounds)? Or should I prioritise social responsibility by buying them from poor growers (on charitable grounds) who may not farm organically or live nearby? What if there are no poor local organic farmers to make my choice easy?

Again, this is a situation in which there is no clear answer. We are free to weigh things up for ourselves, and we should be slow to judge others who choose differently from us.


If you have a low income and/or a family to support, the cost of goods and whether they are essential or optional will loom large in your thinking. You will likely prioritise your duty to your family over your duty to distant strangers, wild animals or future generations. The reality is that ethically certified products are unlikely to be the cheapest on offer. Ethical production comes at a cost and ethical certification adds to the cost. If ethically certified products are just as affordable as others, the case for choosing them strengthens. But if not, the ethical (or morally right or good) choice for a low-income shopper is probably to buy the cheaper items so that their money stretches to buy as many of the essential items on the shopping list as possible.

Wealthier shoppers who want to be able to maximise their charitable giving might also feel justified in buying cheaper options.

Will you judge them and tell them they are wrong?

Some people might argue that it makes no practical difference whether I buy an ‘ethical’ product for altruistic reasons or selfish reasons. That’s true. In either case, the purchase of the product (hopefully) contributes to some environmental or social good. Christians believe, however, that motivation is important. We think there is virtue in buying an ethical product out of a desire to make some small change for the better in the world. But we also think the virtuous act loses its shine if it is done to bask in a glow of moral superiority or show off our virtue to others. Advertisers of ethical products don’t make this distinction, however. They flatter shoppers by saying every ethical purchase is virtuous.

In Matthew 6:1–4, Jesus warns against making a show of our righteousness so that others may see and praise us. Luther’s explanation of the First Commandment (we are to fear, love and trust God above all things) warns against making an idol of our reputation.

So, yes, even show-offs do good. And they often receive the feel-good praise they want. But Jesus encourages us to do good without fanfare and leave any rewards up to our Father in heaven.

Christians seek to please God by making good choices. But they realise that a few (or even a lot) of good choices don’t earn us our salvation. Our ‘best ethical life’ falls far short of God’s standards. We try to please God out of gratitude for saving us already through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus, and because we want to follow Jesus’ example.

So, take some time to think about how you spend your money. Reflect on your motivation for buying what you buy. And be slow to judge others who might choose differently to you.

Nick Schwarz is the LCANZ’s Assistant to the Bishop – Public Theology and a consultant to the church’s Commission on Social and Bioethical Questions.


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The Lutheran Women of Australia (LWA) Convention scheduled for Horsham, Victoria, in September 2021 has been cancelled, due to COVID-19 travel uncertainties. Elections for the LWA Committee will be held in a format yet to be determined. Information will be published in Lutheran Women and LCANZ and district communications.

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Rev John Henderson

Bishop Lutheran Church of Australia

‘Honour Christ and let him be the Lord of your life. Always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope’ (1 Peter 3:15 CEV).

The first letter of Peter in the New Testament is addressed to Christians scattered across Asia Minor in the first century after Christ. It is a practical manual on how to survive persecution.

We live very different lives to believers back then, but we, too, could soon face more active opposition or even some type of persecution. Even if that doesn’t eventuate, Peter’s guidance is timely. Society is marginalising Christian faith and churches are losing their privileges. We should not take our freedoms as Christians for granted. Popular pressure is forcing governments to abandon the Christian moral order that not so long ago was the norm. The uncovering of deceit and abuse in church institutions has disgraced us in the public square.

Are you one of those who fear what could be coming? St Peter’s letter is a good place to start if you want help with that. It takes the reader back to the basics of the Christian faith, encouraging us to hold on to the essentials that give all Christians strength and hope.

Peter begins with praise. ‘Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is so good, and by raising Jesus from death, he has given us new life and a hope that lives on. God has something stored up for you in heaven, where it will never decay or be ruined or disappear. You have faith in God, whose power will protect you until the last day. Then he will save you, just as he has always planned to do’ (1 Peter 1:3–5 CEV).

Peter calls believers living stones, a chosen people, a royal priesthood and a holy nation. These titles are not descriptions of our worldly circumstances or achievements. They flow only from God’s gracious choice. He then describes at length the holy life that flows in turn from that choice: ‘… all of you should agree and have concern and love for each other. You should also be kind and humble. Don’t be hateful and insult people just because they are hateful and insult you. Instead, treat everyone with kindness. You are God’s chosen ones, and he will bless you’ (1 Peter 3:8,9 CEV).

Importantly, Peter says nothing about fighting back and defeating enemies. He even tells believers to obey the emperor and Christian slaves to obey their masters. We might be shocked by that, but this is about survival. Peter doesn’t say to attack wrongdoers. His teaching is like that of Jesus, ‘I tell you not to try to get even with a person who has done something to you. When someone slaps your right cheek, turn and let that person slap your other cheek …’ (Matthew 5:39 CEV).

How can this be a manual on surviving persecution? If we follow St Peter’s guidance, won’t we be run over, crushed and broken? Is that what we fear? But isn’t that Christ’s way? He submitted to the powers of his day, unjust though they were. Is the example of Christ, who did not return evil for evil but responded to evil with good, really our key to surviving whatever may come, including persecution? Peter thinks so. And when Christians suffer, let it be for doing good and not evil.

The courage to face persecution, then, begins with the praise of God and our hope in Christ. It continues with practising love in all we do. Whatever we fear losing will turn out not to have been so important. In Christ, we will always have more than we could possibly hope for. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

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As Christians, we’re called to show love and generosity to others. But with so many ethical standards, political sensitivities, cultural customs and dietary needs to be aware of today, is it too hard to invite someone over without offending by how we serve them? Ethics researcher Kimberley Pfeiffer says knowing that all goodness comes from God and that the ultimate ‘social influencer’ is at work in hearts rather than on Instagram, frees us to offer Christian hospitality without fear of faux pas.

by Kimberley Pfeiffer

We live in a time where everyone seems to be ‘ethical’ about something.

Philosophically, ethics is about the pursuit of the good. But for us as Christians, we believe that goodness is God. He’s the giver of goodness.

So, as Christians, we don’t look at ethics as a philosophical framework. We look at it from the perspective of God coming to us in Christ and giving himself to us. He is the Creator of beauty. He’s the truth that informs all goodness. And we come to know all these things about God through Christ.

Out of our faith, we learn what goodness is and we enter into our lives, sharing the goodness that comes from God. We don’t need to try to reach ‘ideal’ standards of living, because that’s all done in Christ. We have this immense freedom to serve others.

When we practise hospitality, we want everyone to feel they belong, and we don’t ostracise anyone because they’ve got particular needs – instead we can pray for them. We can also commend our anxieties to God about getting things wrong when we serve because hospitality is a spirit, not a rule book.

And hospitality is more than food – it’s also about giving our time. So, if preparing a meal seems too fraught due to a person’s needs, we might share a cuppa and a chat.

It’s also helpful to remember that we’re not in control of the Holy Spirit and the way God draws people. That’s not our job.

In contrast, the concept of being a ‘social influencer’ is a big thing today. People who advocate for their brands and ‘ethical’ projects on social media push paradigms such as: ‘Do what I do, look how beautiful I am, you want to be beautiful like me.’

Instead, we trust the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and those around us. We can confess our faith, share God’s gifts and demonstrate our spiritual posture through hospitality. When we share our table, we can ask a blessing before a meal and give thanks afterwards, so that what we’re saying is, ‘The gifts that I share with you to serve you are actually from God’.

And that spirit of hospitality releases us from a lot of pressure because we’re not trying to push things on people. True Christian hospitality is a gift. We’re sharing God’s love but there are no strings attached. Out of the gifts we receive, we share.

And what you’re really doing through hospitality is sharing life together – and you never know where that will take you.

Kimberley Pfeiffer is the secretary of the LCA’s Commission on Social and Bioethical Questions.

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Pastor Mark Vainikka will be the next LCA Queensland District bishop. He was elected unopposed during the District Convention of Synod at Eight Mile Plains last month.

He will succeed Bishop Paul Smith, who has served in the role since June 2015 and did not seek re-election.

Ordained in 2002, Bishop-elect Mark has served in parish ministry, school ministry and as the full-time first assistant bishop. He was the vice-president/assistant bishop for eight years, first assistant bishop since 2018 and the full-time first assistant since 2019. Addressing District Synod after his election, he said: ‘It’s very humbling. You have entrusted me to be your bishop. It is a call to serve you.’

Pastor Ben Hentschke of Ipswich Parish will succeed Pastor Mark as the District’s first assistant bishop, while Pastor Nathan Glover of St Andrews Lutheran College Tallebudgera is the new second assistant bishop.

Meanwhile, Pastor Matthias Prenzler of Goulburn Murray Parish is the new assistant bishop of the Victoria-Tasmania District, which held its Convention of Synod at Geelong on 22 May. Victoria-Tasmania District Bishop Lester Priebbenow, who has served in that role since 2017, was not up for re-election.

Also in May, Pastor David Altus was re-elected unopposed for a further two-year term as bishop of the South Australia – Northern Territory District at its Convention of Synod at Tanunda. Bishop Altus first led the district in late 2009. Pastor Andrew Brook of St Johns Unley was elected to serve as first assistant bishop, while Pastor Joel Cramer of The Ark Salisbury is the SA-NT second assistant bishop.

The Lutheran Church of New Zealand Synod met at Upper Moutere in June. LCNZ Bishop Mark Whitfield is halfway through his third four-year term and was not up for election. The incumbent assistant bishop, Pastor Jim Pietsch, of St Pauls Wellington, was re-elected.

Earlier this year, Bishop Mike Fulwood was returned for a third two-year term leading the Western Australia District in a part-time capacity, along with serving in parish ministry at Parkwood. WA Assistant Bishop Peter Hage of St Johns Perth was also returned for a further two-year term in his role.

The New South Wales District will not hold a Convention of Synod this year.

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The LCANZ has a long-standing relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malaysia (ELCM) through LCA International Mission. One of the ways the ELCM serves its community is through the Women’s Care & Counselling Centre, which supports pregnant women who may be considering abortions or baby-dumping. Those who serve there share the story of this life-saving ministry.

In the late 1990s, there was a growing need to help young single mothers facing unplanned pregnancies. The fact they were turning to the church for help meant we had to act. The ELCM does not believe in abortion as a solution for family planning, and to put our beliefs into practice, Bishop Emeritus Dr Solomon Rajah moved to set up a safe home for care and counselling.

Established in 2010, the Women’s Care & Counselling Centre (WCCC) is located in Port Klang, southwest of Kuala Lumpur. Under the able care of Deaconess Elizabeth Gopal, it has been a beacon of hope for many women – more than 100 women have seen the kindness of Christ made manifest in their lives.

Deaconess Elizabeth receives pastoral support from Holy Cross Lutheran congregation’s pastor and council, while WCCC also works closely with Malaysia’s national welfare ministry and has a good relationship with local authorities. We are also thankful for the generous gift from Lutheran Women of Australia in support of our diaconal ministry.

Our primary concern is for mothers to be able to have and raise their child without a stigma attached to being a single mother. Therefore, we provide a safe home for them until they are ready to leave. The women are often subjected to violence and abuse, and WCCC is committed to providing security, counselling and exposure to useful skills. We also help with accessing financial aid from government agencies, legal papers and medical and food aid for the care of the babies.

For mothers who choose to give up their baby for adoption, we assist in the legal process to find a good home.

Sadly, baby-dumping still occurs, and we have staff to care for babies while we arrange legal adoptions. Thankfully, however, there have been no recent cases.

Since government COVID-19 restrictions on movement and gatherings were introduced in Malaysia in March 2020, WCCC’s ministries have expanded. These include monthly food assistance to single mothers and their families, transportation for medical care for single women and help for single mothers to procure cheap housing in government projects.

We don’t advertise our services, but WCCC has developed a community presence through activities such as medical camps.

This puts WCCC on the radar of the local medical community, who are often first to encounter pregnant mothers in distress.

In 2021, WCCC has extended its premises to accommodate more women and to provide sufficient space for activities.

God has been good to us, and this ministry is a rich and rewarding experience. We serve our Lord with joy and respect for life.

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LCANZ members Nancy Fox and Oscar Joppich have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday 2021 Honours List.

The vice-chair of the LLL Board, Nancy, of Kirribilli New South Wales, has been made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her ‘significant service to the financial and banking sector, and to women in business’, while Oscar, of Tanunda South Australia, has been recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his ‘service to the Lutheran church and to the community’.

As well as having been a member of the LLL Board since 2002, Nancy has served the LCANZ at congregational, district and churchwide levels in various volunteer capacities. A former trial lawyer turned banker from the US who is today a full-time non-executive director, her current service includes being a member of the LCANZ Constitution Review Committee, a consultant to the LCA’s Committee for International Mission, and a member of the LCA Judicial Tribunal.

A Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Nancy has served on not-for-profit organisations for 20 years, including mentoring several men and women. A volunteer firefighter with the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, she is a member at St Paul’s Sydney.

Oscar Joppich has been assistant chair of the resident committee at Tanunda Lutheran Home (TLH) since 2014 and was previously its chairperson. He worships with his wife Irene and is a volunteer at TLH and St Pauls Tanunda.

A retired teacher who taught in state schools from 1954 to 1991, Oscar served on volunteer assignments in Papua New Guinea (PNG) from 1958–1959, 1992–1994 and in 1996. On the first trip to PNG, he taught the children of Lutheran missionaries at the Katherine Lehmann School in Wau, while from 1992, he and Irene were volunteer managers of the Lutheran Guest House, Goroka. In 1996, they returned to Katherine Lehmann to support the attempt for it to become an international school.

Oscar’s recent community service includes volunteering for the Barossa Community Transport Service and packaging association Barossa Enterprises, regional SA’s largest disability employer.

The congratulations of the church are offered to Oscar and Nancy and any other members honoured with awards.

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Nine Australian Lutheran schools are finalists – or Excellence Awardees – in the Australian Education Awards 2021.

Living Faith Lutheran Primary School Murrumba Downs Queensland is a finalist in the Primary School of the Year – Non-government section, while Faith Lutheran College Plainland Qld is up for the title of Secondary School of the Year – Non-government in the annual awards, to be presented in August in Sydney.

Good News Lutheran School Middle Park Qld is a finalist for Best Remote Learning Program, along with St Paul’s Lutheran Primary School Caboolture Qld, and also for Best STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). Faith Lutheran College’s Junior School at Redlands is vying for the Innovation in Learning Environment Design award. Immanuel College Novar Gardens in South Australia is a Boarding School of the Year finalist.

William Wallace of Golden Grove Lutheran Primary School SA is nominated for Primary School Principal of the Year – Non-government. Katrina Russell from St Paul’s Lutheran Primary School Caboolture Qld, Lauren Forsyth of Lutheran School Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, and Renee Wathen from Tarrington Lutheran School, Victoria, are finalists for Primary School Teacher of the Year – Non-government. Tarrington’s Sophie Sharp and Steffany Mylonas, of Redeemer Lutheran College, Rochedale Qld, are Education Rising Star of the Year award finalists.

St Paul’s Caboolture is also a winner in The Educator Australia magazine’s Employer of Choice 2021 awards.

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by Pastor Bob Wiebusch

Wayne Kroker, of Nundah, Queensland, is the Lutheran Nurse of the Year. Wayne was one of two Queensland nurses honoured by the Lutheran Nurses Association of Australia (LNAA) in May. Shirley Klinge, of Laidley, Queensland, was awarded LNAA Life Membership.

Wayne is employed in the Thoracic Ward at Prince Charles Hospital at Chermside in suburban Brisbane. During the coronavirus pandemic, he has provided nursing care for the most seriously ill COVID-19 patients in his ward. During the height of the COVID lockdown, Wayne was diagnosed with cancer. After a break for treatment, he returned to nursing. Wayne is an active member of St Pauls Lutheran Church Nundah. He and his wife Misiel are managers of St Pauls Lodge on the church campus, where units are rented at reduced rates to people in need.

After completing four years of nursing training at Dalby General Hospital, in Queensland, Shirley Klinge moved to Mt Isa. She first worked at the Mt Isa Base Hospital, then served as director of St Paul’s Lutheran Child Care Centre.

Returning to Dalby, Shirley worked in ICU there for five years, then in 1983, she was appointed director of nursing at Tabeel at Laidley Lutheran aged care.

From 1998 until September 2020, Shirley served as part-time parish nurse at Redeemer Lutheran Church Laidley. She was also a pastoral care nurse at Faith Lutheran College, Plainland.

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