Mission History in Indonesia

1979: Two WELS pastors arrive.

Early 1980s: Third missionary arrives. Services begin.

Mid-1980s: A seminary is organized to train evangelists and pastors. Various WELS pastors serve as theological instructors and advisors until 1994.

1994: Suspension of seminary program and withdrawal of WELS pastors because of difficulties that arose from outside the church.  Later in the year, one WELS pastor returns as theological advisor.

1995: Six nationals ordained as pastors and four assigned as vicars. There are six congregations and four exploratory posts.

1998: Seminary is re-opened. Theological advisor’s family is evacuated but later returns. Five new students enroll in the seminary. A satellite seminary is established in Central Java. National pastors begin teaching in the seminary.

2001: Five more men complete seminary studies and are immediately assigned to the growing number of congregations. After the September 11 attacks, the theological advisor’s family is permanently recalled to the United States, a year and a half earlier than planned.

2002: Gereja Lutheran Indonesia has 11 congregations and nine exploratory posts, representing a 60% growth in membership in two years. Twenty-one national workers serve.

2003: Gereja Lutheran Indonesia is accepted into fellowship with WELS.

2004: Possibilities for outreach by Gereja Lutheran Indonesia in Papua, Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT), and East Java are explored. The final step in the proposal for a transition is accepted by the Board for World Missions.

2005: Gereja Lutheran Indonesia sends a pastor and an evangelist to begin work in Papua. It also joins the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC).

2010: Gereja Lutheran Indonesia now has five congregations and 25 posts; nine of these posts are in Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT).

2011: A seminary professor called by WELS to serve at Sekolah Tinggi Teologi Lutheran (STTL) arrives in Yogyakarta in July.  He and his wife are the first WELS staff to live on-sight since 2001.

2012: After 19 years of faithful and fruitful service, the WELS Field Coordinator accepts a new position in the USA. The role of the seminary professor called by WELS to serve at STTL is expanded to include the duties of Field Coordinator. Five nationals attended a regional translators’ seminar at Asia Lutheran Seminary in Hong Kong sponsored by WELS Multi-Language Publications (MLP). Initial outreach in Kalimantan is begun by one young man after the completion of his theological studies at STTL.

2013: A husband and wife team from GLI attend classes for one academic year at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. A long-range plan calls for the man to become the first GLI liaison to WELS. His wife will be the first national to serve as MLP’s coordinator for all GLI publications.

2014: The new MLP/GLI Publications Coordinator returns to Indonesia after her studies at WLS and begins her work. Four young men complete their theological studies at STTL and are assigned as vicars.

2015: Revisions to the GLI Constitution and Bylaws are ratified at the October biennial synod convention. The revisions include the addition of dedicated boards and committees which will focus on exploration, outreach, education, publications, and stewardship. Ten evangelists are ordained as pastors. The convention also formally elects the evangelist who studied at WLS as the GLI liaison to WELS. Representatives from GLI attend the first regional CELC convention including one man who presents a paper on baptism. GLI partners with WELS Christian Aid and Relief (CAR) in bringing aid to flood victims, those in need, etc. Three young men complete their theological studies at STTL and are assigned as vicars.

2016: A WLS professor visits Indonesia for a seminar attended by most of GLI’s called workers and all students of STTL. As part of an on-going process for maintaining national accreditation, STTL continues to look at options for relocating and building a new campus.

2017: After developing some long-range plans, leaders of GLI present the information to representatives of WELS in order that WELS may better coordinate its efforts to assist their sister church. With gratitude to God, GLI is grateful for the partnership in the gospel that it continues to enjoy. Two nationals from GLI were unable to obtain visas to attend the international CELC convention in Grimma. GLI treasures the fellowship is shares with all CELC member churches and associates.

2018: Representatives of GLI meet with WELS colleagues from the Asia-Pacific Rim Administrative Committee and the Pastoral Studies Institute and begin planning for the strategic withdrawal of the last WELS called worker living in country. Land for a new STTL campus is purchased. At the June GLI synod convention several new officers were elected. Many of these men are from the second and third generation of called workers. GLI sends three representatives to regional CELC meeting in Hong Kong. STTL faculty is reorganized.

2019: The GLI leadership recommends that biannual visits be made in 2020 and 2021 by the WELS Friendly Counselor after his retirement. Building permits secured for the new STTL campus and a well is dug. The ceremonial laying of the first stones of the new STTL campus takes place in May.


Browse through and share pictures of Asia taken by WELS missionaries and national workers.