Government censuses indicate that about 190,000 Australians and New Zealanders identify as Lutheran. In practice, though, the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA), which includes the Lutheran Church of New Zealand (LCNZ), is a relatively small Christian denomination, with about 30,000 regular worshippers. By contrast, the worldwide Lutheran Church, with around 80 million adherents, is the second largest non-Catholic church (and the largest Protestant church) in the world.
In Australia and New Zealand, there are more than 600 Lutheran congregations, about 520 pastors (including those who have retired) and more than 560 registered lay workers and other employees.
Although the LCA is a small church compared with other larger Christian denominations in Australia and New Zealand, we are disproportionately represented in the community through about 80 schools, 60 early childcare services and 24 aged-care and community-care facilities, all of which have an outstanding reputation for offering excellent professional services and Christian care.
Lutherans have 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. Membership decreased during World War I when the use of German was prohibited and many German Lutherans were interned. Numbers increased again after World War II with the influx of northern European migrants.
Australian and New Zealand Lutheranism in the 21st century reflects the multicultural nature of our two nations. We are a culturally rich and colourful church. Congregations of people from Asian and European countries contribute to the cultural diversity of our church, and increasingly we are also welcoming African people, primarily Sudanese, into our worshipping communities.
The work of missionaries and co-workers among Indigenous Australians from the mid-1980s to the present day has borne much fruit, and today we are proud to include in our Lutheran family around 7000 Indigenous Australian people. (Click here for information about LCA ministries with Indigenous Australian people.)