International and local Lutheran mission partners
Myanmar Lutheran Church (MLC)
An extension of the partnership support with the Lutheran Church in Malaysia, has been and continues through support for their mission partnership in theological training for the pastors and ministry leaders in Myanmar, particularly through the Myanmar Lutheran Church.
Myanmar Lutheran Church (MLC) was founded on 1 March 1998 with the support of the Lutheran Church in Malaysia and Singapore. There were five members (Rev Dr Andrew Mang Lone, his wife and three children) in the founding Church. Today there are nearly 3500 members, 17 ordained pastors, 23 evangelists, 14 congregations and multifaceted ministries – an orphanage, Radio Bible Ministry, Riverbank ministry, healing ministry, student hostel ministry, organic farming project, Christian training program and new church planting program.
The ministry began initially to serve the Khumi ethnic group. However, now the ministry also incorporates people from the Asho Chin, Rakhine, Hakha Chin, Burmese, Karin groups with services conducted in Burmese. The MLC is represented in three districts (Yangon, Paletwa and Miza) through 14 congregations.
Yangon is administrative headquarters and Paletwa is the sub- head quarter and centre for the field ministry areas.
MLC participates in Lutheran Distinctive Courses for pastors and evangelists twice a year conducted by Rev Dr Philip Tan and Rev Wolfgang (ELC Bavaria missionary in Malaysia) from Lutheran Church in Malaysia and now in conjunction with some of the other LWF Myanmar member Churches.
Lutheran Church of Myanmar (LCM)
The founder and current president of the Lutheran Church in Myanmar (LCM) is Rev Dr Lal Sawi Thanga, who like many the other Lutheran pastors in Myanmar and including most of the LCM pastors is from a Presbyterian-Methodist-Baptist background. Rev Dr Lal Sawi Thanga is well known in the Christian community of Myanmar as a respected writer and translator of many Christian books. His translations include Martin Luther’s Small Catechism and the book Luther, the Reformer into the Burmese and Mizo. He and the other pastors with their congregation left the Baptist Church because of disagreement on infant baptism following the discovery of Luther and Lutheran teaching. The LCM was founded in 1995 with a particular focus on ministry to the Mizo people who have come in Myanmar from Mizoram land/state in India. The Mizo people from both countries regularly connect with each other and the ministries/relationships transverse both nations.
Mara Evangelical Church (MEC)
The Mara people (formerly known as Lakher) are an ethnic group whose territory is situated on both sides of the border between India and Myanmar. There is a Maraland in the Mizoram State of India and a Maraland in the Chin State of Myanmar.
In 1907 a British missionary couple began working among the Mara. Through their efforts and through the work of local evangelists and a series of revivals the entire Mara people were Christianized by 1960. At the independence of India and Burma the Mara were separated in two groups. In 1967 the church was also organized in two entities: the Evangelical Church of Maraland in India (the larger one), and the Mara Independent Evangelical Church in Burma (now Myanmar). In 1970 a split occurred in the latter, which lasted sixteen years. The break was healed in 1987, with the pastoral help of the Myanmar Council of Churches. The two parts adopted a new name, Mara Evangelical Church, to signify their unity. It is evangelical in outlook and strongly committed to a holistic ministry combined with evangelism. Included in the Mara Evangelical Church are 148 local churches (69 local congregations in Maraland, 69 in Rakhine Mission Fields and 10 overseas), 30,000 church members and 55 pastors (50 ordained, 5 probationary).
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Myanmar (ELCM) / Lutheran Bethlehem Church
The ELC Myanmar was founded by our Lord Jesus Christ through Rev. A. Mayor from the Leipzig, German Mission in 1878 for the migrant workers from India. The initial ministry began in the railway station in Yangon. Up to 65 pastors eventually came from India to serve in the mission. In 1962 all foreigners were expelled from Burma (Myanmar) within 24 hours and the ELCM had to learn to ‘stand on its own feet’. The ELCM/LBC has now grown to 6 local churches, 3,000 Church members and ministry in 5 different languages (Burmese, Urmese, Karin, Tamil, Telugu and English). ELCM is a founding member church of Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC), Myanmar Indian Churches Fellowship, Myanmar Bible Society, Yangon Christian Council (YCC), Catholic Bishop Conference of Myanmar and Myanmar Council of Churches Join Commission, member church of Lutheran World Federation (LWF) from 2000.
Each of the churches have their own networks of supporters. All four churches are linked through the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Mekong Mission Forum (MMF), and through the Federation of Lutheran Churches in Myanmar (FELM)
Myanmar Lutheran Church is closely connected to the Lutheran Church in Malaysia and with strong links and support from the ELCA (America) and the ELCB (Bavaria, through Mission EineWelt).
Lutheran Church in Myanmar has strong links to and support from Asia Focus and some connections LISA (Lutheran Institute of South East Asia) and also to the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.
The Mara Evangelical Lutheran Church has affiliation with the following: The Evangelical Church of Maraland from 1966, The National Missionary Society of India from 2007, LWF (2010), Mekong Mission Forum. Social Action partners are: Kindernothilfe (KNH), Germany from 2007, EED from Germany from 2009. The MEC also holds membership in Myanmar Council of Churches, Christian Conference of Asia, World Communion of Reformed Churches, World Council of Churches.
The Lutheran Bethlehem Church (or Evangelical Lutheran Church in Myanmar as it is also known) ministry/mission commenced by the Leipzig Lutheran Mission, and was formerly supported by the Lutheran Church of Sweden (this has ceased). Current partnerships are as follows: LWF (2000) and LWF Mekong Mission Forum, and associations with other (non-Lutheran) denominations in Malaysia and Singapore, Myanmar Council of Churches, World Council of Churches and Myanmar Indian Churches Fellowship.