The Australia Day 2015 Honours List recognised eight people with some connection to the Lutheran Church this year—some for their significant contribution to the church and to their local congregations; others whose contributions to their communities flow from their Christian faith.
‘They are a source of courage, support and inspiration, and we are a stronger, safer and more caring nation because of them’, Governor General of Australia Sir Peter Cosgrove said in his official announcement.
All recipients with connections to the LCA were awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
Robin Kleinschmidt, of Rochedale South in Queensland, is well known in Lutheran circles. He was nominated for his service to education and to the Lutheran Church of Australia.
Robin was the founding headmaster of Redeemer Lutheran College, Rochedale, serving in the role for 21 years, from 1980 until 2001. At the same time he held executive roles with the Schools Council of the Queensland District (now Lutheran Education Queensland). He served two extended terms on the Queensland District Council from 1983 until 1995 and again from 2003 until 2011. During this second period he was also chairman of the Lutheran Community Care Council in Queensland, from 2003 until 2006. Robin also served one three-year term as a member of the General Church Council.
John Belani from Laverton in Victoria is another recipient whose work has benefitted Lutheran education. John was officially recognised for service to the community of Laverton, but in reality his charity and mission endeavours (in a 56-year partnership with his wife Anna) have been international efforts.
John has been a member of the Good News Lutheran College Council at Werribee since the College was founded in 1997. As a builder, his efforts have been focussed on the ‘bricks and mortar’ aspect of schools.
An immigrant who arrived in Australia in 1959, John became a founding member and the first chairman of the Christ the Lord Slovak Lutheran congregation in Laverton, serving from 1967 to 1979. He donated land for their church building in 1974, later also assisting St Matthews Lutheran Church in Footscray with finance for extensions. He went on to financially assist the building of three new Lutheran churches in Tanzania, two congregations and an orphanage in South Sudan and a health centre in Lablad, Papua New Guinea.
Bernard Gross also worked with his hands—as a farmer. Farming at Drung, near Horsham in Victoria, he was recognised for 65 years of involvement in local government and in community organisations.
Bernard has been a member of the Holy Trinity congregation for many years, serving as chairman of the congregation for a significant period. He credits his early involvement in Lutheran youth groups, from 1948 until 1961, as a factor behind his later achievements in local government.
‘I made a lot of friends in that period who have remained really good friends right throughout my life’, he told The Wimmera Mail Times. ‘That was a time when I was able to receive a lot of help to gain experience which I used later on and throughout my community work.’ This included two terms as mayor of Horsham, as a Wimmera Shire councillor from 1985 to 1995 and as a Horsham councillor from 1997 to 2012. He was a member of the Green Lake fire brigade from 1961 to 2005 and has been a committee member of the Horsham Agriculture Society since 1968.
Brian Mattner is a member of St Peter’s Lutheran Church in Blackwood, South Australia. He is currently the congregation’s vicechairman and its ChildSafe and SafePlace trainer and co-ordinator.
Brian’s working life is an ideal preparation for such a role: he is a senior sergeant in the South Australia Police, where he is the emergency and major events operations planning co-ordinator.
He also volunteers with South Australia’s Country Fire Service in the Adelaide Hills and was involved in co-ordination efforts during January’s Samson Flat bushfire. Brian’s award recognised service to the community and to emergency service organisations. His father, Charles Mattner, was a previous recipient of an OAM.
Barry Klose of Lobethal, South Australia was recognised for service to the community of Lobethal through a range of organisations. He has been a member of the Lobethal Lutheran Church for 45 years, serving as treasurer for three years. As a member of the Lobethal Lutheran School Council for thirteen years he served as treasurer for eleven years, utilising his considerable financial and business skills.
Selwyn Pfeffer was recognised for a long life of service to the community of Boonah, in Queensland. He was a founding committee member of the Teviot Villas Retirement Village, a project of Trinity Lutheran Church, from 1994. But his concern for the wellbeing of young people has seen him also serve as the inaugural chair of fundraising for the Boonah State High School Chaplaincy service, a position he has held since 2005.
Selwyn’s long history of service includes membership of Rotary since 1969, as a founding member of the Boonah and District Cultural Foundation, as chairman of the Boonah Chamber of Commerce, zone president of Apex and founder and patron of the Boonah Swimming Club.
Margaret (Peg) Martlew has served the South Australian communities of Port Elliot and Victor Harbor in many capacities. The retired school teacher has been part of Meals on Wheels, Port Elliot Red Cross, and Port Elliot National Trust.
She is the current Port Elliot representative of South Coast Christian Community Care and still keeps her teacher skills sharp as a volunteer at the Victor Harbor Lutheran School.
Finally, Jack Mackay of Wynnum in Queensland was recognised for service to war veterans and their families, including speaking to students at Grace Lutheran College in Redcliffe as an invited guest for many of their annual ANZAC Day ceremonies.
There may be other Lutheran recipients of 2015 Australia Day Honours not listed here. This list has been compiled from information that specifically mentions church affiliation or service.