The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod began work in the Philippines in 1946. The Lutheran Church in the Philippines (LCP) became an LCMS partner/sister church in 1971 and is a member of the International Lutheran Council. As last reported, the Lutheran Church of the Philippines had 23,000 baptized members in 190 congregations and preaching stations and a national staff of 301 pastors, evangelists, lay preachers and teachers. The church operates the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Baguio City, a preschool, six primary schools and a secondary school. In addition, the church is involved in Bible translation work, media work in cooperation with Lutheran Hour Ministries, and social ministry programs involving agricultural programs, medical missions, health education and training programs, literacy programs and water/spring development.
Currently, the LCMS provides support through ongoing theological education at national lay leaders training conferences, which is valuable because the LCP depends heavily on lay leaders. The LCP continues to plant churches, with substantial lay leader participation, working toward its goal of planting 100 new churches by 2017. One LCMS GEO missionary serves alongside the leadership of the LCP to coordinate mission projects and short-term teams.
In 1988, LCMS missionaries began pioneer work among the Tagakaulo people on the southern island of Mindanao. The first TLCCP congregation was established in 1995 and the church body was registered in December 1998. Several Tagakaulo congregations have been planted and local leaders have been trained to carry out ministry and plant new congregations. After 15 years of meticulous efforts to nurture the development of the Tagakaulo Lutheran Church of Christ in the Philippines to be self-sustaining, the LCMS mission team—seven career missionaries and their families—was evacuated in June 2001 due to a threat posed by the Islamic militant group Abu Sayyaf. (Abu Sayyaf terrorists were active in the mountain region of Mindanao where the missionaries served among the Tagakaulo people and were responsible for the kidnapping of a New Tribes missionary couple in May 2001.)
In light of the subsequent events of Sept. 11, 2001, and Abu Sayyaf’s connection to Al Quaeda terrorists, the field strategy was revised in January 2002. Later, one missionary family returned to a safer location in the Philippines until 2005 to facilitate the continued training of Tagakaulo pastors and to develop Tagakaulo teaching materials. The graduation of the first group of TLCCP pastors was in March 2005. Some of these men had been studying for as many as eight years while leading their congregations. Now, these men continue to lead the TLCCP and train the next generation of leaders. Now that the LCMS residential missionary phase of the work concluded, LCMS personnel continue to periodically travel to Mindanao to conduct ongoing training seminars for pastors and lay leaders and to encourage the church there. Currently, there are more than 20 TLCCP congregations.
The LCMS first provided mercy support to work in the Philippines in 1989 by funding a literacy program. Mercy projects in the following years included health/dental care and education, providing well and clean water, foster care and children’s services, disaster relief (fire, volcano and earthquake relief), medical supplies, literacy programs, milk for malnourished infants, agriculture and livestock programs, and tuberculosis screening. Currently, the LCMS provides support for farming/livestock training in order to increase the incomes of pastors and church members, flood relief and joint typhoon relief.