About forty years ago a small group of self-taught Lutherans gathered in a far-flung corner of the Caribbean on the small island of Antigua. They heard about Lutheran teachings through a second-hand Catechism and distant radio broadcasts emanating from Puerto Rico. They wanted to know more.
God works in mysterious ways. After a couple more twists and turns, this budding congregation received support in the form of called workers and offerings from the WELS. People started to join the group. Property was purchased. A small multi-use facility was built that housed a school during the week with church services and Sunday School on the weekends. By God’s grace, St. John’s Lutheran Church and School was born.
For many years the church was served faithfully by pastors and teachers trained in WELS schools and sent by the WELS Board for Home Missions. Through the faithful service of these workers teaming up with the local members, the message of God’s grace has been proclaimed in Antigua. The church and school have grown. Now the congregation serves more than 600 souls and the school has more than 330 children from pre-school through grade 6.
During a typical Sunday morning worship service at St. John’s, a single steel pan plays along with a keyboard to accompany the choir singing a variety of hymns. During special services, an entire steel pan group plays—this is just one of many outreach ministries at St. John’s; choir, ladies’ group, and a school all afford them opportunities to reach the community.
There are still changes and challenges. St. John’s Lutheran-which once had US pastors and teachers from WELS backgrounds-is now challenged to raise up workers from among its own people. St. John’s Lutheran which once received most of its financial support from WELS in the United States is now challenged to support itself.
The School faculty includes eleven teachers and five assistants all members of the church; all trained locally or at Martin Luther College and locally supported. Four more members are currently studying at Martin Luther College and will return, Lord willing, to teach at St. John’s again.