Blessed to be a Blessing

The St Paul’s community has a calling; a calling to serve others. That calling has to do with fulfilling Christ’s injunction to love one’s neighbour. Like Christians everywhere, St Paul’s members serve others in their communities.

To quote the popular Lutheran author, Dr Gene Edward Veith Jr, ‘The good works which follow, however, are not done, as is often piously said, “for God,” but for other people. Strictly speaking, we do not “serve God”—rather, he is always the one serving us; instead we serve our neighbours.’

This service happens in the everyday, in the mundane, the ‘Monday to Friday’ life that is a significant part of all of our lives. Dr Veith continues, ‘Our relationship to God is not determined by our good works…what we need rather, is forgiveness of our sins and the perfect good works of Jesus Christ. But our relationship to our neighbours is determined by our good works, which themselves are only made possible by God working through us.’

As God’s people come together to receive from God in the Devine Service, God equips his people for his work in the world. We are sent out blessed, to be a blessing. We are sent out praying, to pray for others. We are sent out, forgiven, to touch others with God’s forgiveness. This happens in homes, work places and schools.

As a church community, we specifically support Australian Lutheran World Service. Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) is the overseas aid and resettlement agency of the Lutheran Church of Australia. It operates under a constitution approved by the General Synod of the LCA, and is consistent with the objects of the LCA Constitution.

St Paul’s is a congregation of the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA). There are about 250,000 Lutherans in Australia and New Zealand. The LCA has 648 congregations, 298 parishes, 533 pastors and 92 lay workers. For more information about the Lutheran Church of Australia, see their website.

Australian Lutheranism in the 21st Century, reflects the multicultural nature of the Australian nation itself, with 22 percent of Australian Lutherans being born in another country. Aussie Lutherans have their roots in every continent, from Argentina to China, from Sudan to Papua New Guinea, from Cambodia to Canada, and from Scandinavia to South Africa.

The Lutheran church has been in Australia and New Zealand for more than 150 years. In the 1830s, small groups of European Lutherans emigrated in search of religious freedom. They settled mainly in rural areas in various parts of Australia.

The Lutheran church is one of the world’s major Christian churches. At the beginning of 2006 there were nearly 83 million Lutherans in the world. European Lutheran churches have 38.6 million members with the populations of Germany, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway having a high Lutheran concentration. The fastest growing Lutheran population is in Africa, with more than 14 million members. Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi and Cameroon have substantial Lutheran memberships.

Like many Lutheran churches, St Paul’s Toowoomba, is liturgical, ecumenical and inclusive. Lutherans have a rich tradition of ecumenical dialogue, both in Australia and globally. Internationally, this has led Lutherans to sign joint declarations with our sister-churches, the Anglican Church (the Porvoo Agreement in 1997) and the Roman Catholic Church (the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in 1999). It our firm belief that the church is not called to build walls that separate, but bridges that connect. Christ’s body, as expressed in and through the church, includes many expressions and faith traditions of Christianity. This is not to be shunned, but to be celebrated as unity in diversity!