The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod began work in Sri Lanka in 1927 as a natural outgrowth of its work in India. Missionaries worked primarily in the mountainous tea estate region of central Sri Lanka among the Tamil-speaking Hindus. The last resident LCMS missionary left in 1998.
The Lanka Lutheran Church (LLC) was received as a sister/partner church at the 2001 LCMS convention. It is also a member of the International Lutheran Council. The LLC reports a membership of more than 1,000 people in 22 congregations, led by five pastors and eight evangelists with five preschools and 10 teachers. Two LLC congregations are in Colombo City. The remaining congregations are located on the tea plantations of central Sri Lanka. The church started an informal seminary in 2005, sending 12 students to plant churches on new tea plantations. The great need now is for mission stations in each of these locations.
A major development in the church’s outreach work has been a series of 15 preschools, which meets a major need on the tea plantations. Two of the new congregations founded in 2002 began through the pre-school ministry, as well as 16 of the adult Baptisms. With all of this new outreach work, there have been more than 200. A major goal of the church is to establish boarding schools for the high-school age children, beginning with a girls’ boarding school.
The LCMS provides support for the Lanka Lutheran Church workers to participate in continuing-education opportunities in the neighboring India Evangelical Lutheran Church. Additionally, recent funding through a special campaign provided designated support for new home/church/daycare facilities in the tea plantations area.
The first mercy project supported by the LCMS in Sri Lanka was in 1987, and it provided orphanage support through health, education, social and spiritual care. In later years, other mercy work focused on children’s homes, preschool support, student scholarships, building a preschool, community transformation center support and housing for tsunami survivors.
The LCMS sent a survey team to Sri Lanka in January 2005 to determine how the LCMS and other Lutheran partner agencies could respond to needs following the tsunami disaster of Dec. 26, 2004. The LCMS positioned short-term personnel in Sri Lanka to facilitate humanitarian aid projects that helped the Lanka Lutheran Church to reach out and give material and spiritual aid to their neighbors who were affected by the tragedy.