LCA Presidents and Bishops
- Dr Max Löhe 1966–1972
- Dr Les Grope 1972–1987
- Dr Lance Steicke 1987–2000
- Dr Mike Semmler 2000–2013
- Rev John Henderson 2013–2021
- Rev Paul Smith 2022–
Office of the Bishop
The LCA Constitution defines the role of the Bishop* of the Church as ‘[to] exercise oversight of the Church, promote its spiritual welfare and strive to preserve peace and order’ (Bylaws VIII.B. 1b). The Bishop’s Office manages functions particularly to do with the oversight of the church; in essence, the office exists to serve the pastors and people of the LCANZ. More particularly, it oversees, promotes and supports the services provided by departments of the church to the wider LCANZ in a coordinated fashion. Together with the district bishops, the LCA bishop works with congregations in Australia and New Zealand and Lutheran churches around the world (see International Mission) and engages in and responds to social issues within the wider community.
* At the General Convention of Synod in 2013, delegates voted to change the name of the church's head pastoral office from 'president' to 'bishop'. Read more ...
The Secretary’s Office supports the LCA Bishop and the College of Bishops (LCA Bishop, District Bishops and the LCA Assistant Bishop) overseeing the mission and ministry of the LCANZ. He undertakes projects as directed by the bishop, the College of Bishops and the General Church Board. In particular, he oversees Interim Ministry and Australian Defence Force chaplaincy. The Secretary’s Office also has responsibilities in relation to the General Convention of Synod.
Bishop Paul Smith
On 1 October 2021, our General Convention of Synod elected Pastor Paul Smith as bishop of the Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ).
Bishop Smith brings to the office broad pastoral and leadership experience within the LCANZ. At the time of his election as bishop, he was serving a six-month placement at St Peters Lutheran College Indooroopilly, having recently completed more than six years as bishop of the Queensland District.
He was ordained in 1988 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Adelaide, after undertaking his vicarage year at the Underdale-Glandore parish in suburban Adelaide.
His first assignment was as the first Lutheran college chaplain at Trinity Lutheran College Ashmore on Queensland’s Gold Coast. This first ordained ministry role continued what has become a close and valued relationship with Lutheran schools, which began during his days as a student at St Peters Indooroopilly, where he was confirmed into the Lutheran Church.
His next call was his first parish ministry, at Tailem Bend/Karoonda in South Australia, where he served between 1992 and 1995. To follow were parish ministries at Immanuel North Adelaide from 1995 to 2001, and from 2002 to 2005 at Good Shepherd Toowoomba in Queensland. These calls were followed by a return to service as a college pastor, firstly back at St Peters Indooroopilly and then at Pacific Lutheran College at Caloundra.
During his time at Toowoomba, Pastor Smith was first elected as a member of Queensland District Church Council, which he served from 2003 to 2007 and rejoined in 2010. Later that year he was elected as the first vice-president of the LCAQD, a role he would fill until being elected LCAQD bishop in 2015.
In addition to serving on the LCA’s College of Bishops and General Church Council and in various district roles, Bishop Smith’s churchwide service has also included being a member of the Commission on Theology and Inter-Church Relations and the Commission on Social and Bioethical Questions.
Bishop Smith, who grew up in Far North Queensland with no Lutheran congregational background, is married to Heidi, and they have three adult children.