The Georgian Orthodox Church dates back to A.D. 150 and, for centuries, was the only preserving factor in Georgian culture and nationalism. Following Georgia’s independence from Soviet rule in 1991, there was an increased interest in the Christian faith.
In May 2002, two Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod missionaries in Russia visited a small group of people in the Republic of Georgia who learned of the Lutheran church through Lutheran Hour Ministries.
By June 2002, a leadership training seminar was held and four leaders began classes at the Lutheran seminary in Russia thanks to support from Orphan Grain Train of Norfolk, Neb., an LCMS Recognized Service Organization. Two of the students completed their bachelor’s degrees and now work toward establishing Lutheran congregations in several locations across Georgia.
LCMS missionaries continue to work with the Georgian Lutheran evangelists who desire more training in doctrine, Lutheran teachings and outreach methods. Currently, the LCMS supports the work of four evangelists: two based in Tbilisi and two in Kutaisi.
The LCMS began supporting mercy work in Georgia in 2003. A development grant allowed a congregation to provide fishing nets for needy congregation members, enabling them to catch and transport their fish to major markets without the help of middlemen. In 2008, mercy grants also provided funding for assisting refugees with basic provisions, such as heaters and blankets. These refugees were displaced as a result of fighting along the Russian-Georgian border.
Other LCMS partners involved in the work in Georgia include Lutherans in Medical Mission and Jesus is Lord Mission Society.