With approximately 900,000 members, the ELC-PNG is the largest of our 8 partner churches. The church operates three seminaries to train the pastors required for well over a thousand congregations.
Kelvin Krieger, Mission in the World Program Coordinator, oversees the partner relationship with the ELC-PNG.
There is a long rich history of Canadian missionary service in Papua New Guinea. The current missionary from Canada is Bonnie Weppler, a Long-term Missionary who's position is funded primarily by the ELCA (ELC in America) along with Missionary Sponsorships from the ELCIC. Kelvin Krieger (left) visited Bonnie in 2003 with Christoph Schneider (right) from the ELCA Division for Global Mission.
Bonnie is an Administrative Assistant in the national office of the ELC-PNG which is located in the city of Lae. Two colleagues that she enjoys working closely with are Ruth Marsipal on the left, the Coordinator of the Overseas Affairs Office and Leah Haro on the right, the Executive Assistant for the ELC-PNG Bishop.
Each fall at the Partners Forum, ELC-PNG delegates meet with partner church representatives from Germany, Australia, the United States and Canada. It takes a few days for everyone to review and discuss what the church is doing in Christian service. Mission in the World provides an annual $5,000 grant to assist with these programs.
The Partners Forum includes a consultation on a special topic every year, with a keynote speaker and opportunities for small group discussion. There is also time to experience Papua New Guinean food and expressions of faith.
One of the ELC-PNG departments is for Tok Ples education. This department makes it possible for students to learn in their local village language and helps to preserve these languages. Through Directed Giving from ELCIC members and congregations, Mission in the World raised $5,000 to assist in the production of Tok Ples education materials.
Rev Paul Johnson, ELCIC Assistant to the Bishop (far right) visited Bonnie and attended the Partners Forum in 2004. There are two other people in this photo that Bonnie works closely with. They are Bishop Wesley Kigasung on the left and Kamandong Kanai from ELC-PNG Finance Department, beside Paul.
For Paul this was an opportunity to return to his roots. His parents were missionaries in PNG and he grew up in the Madang area until age 13. His father was a pilot and his mother was a nurse. Paul was able to meet with many people who knew him as a child and appreciated the mission service and presence of his parents.
Paul had another reunion of sorts in PNG with Pastor Jimmy Joe (centre) who was in Canada in May 2004 for the Companion Synod Consultation. Pastor Jimmy Joe was invited to participate in the Consultation as a partner church resource person. His job as Partnership Coordinator is to facilitate the relationships between the Districts of the ELC-PNG and their companion synods in Germany and the United States.