The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod began work in South Africa in 1982. Today, the LCMS works through congregations of its two partner church bodies in the country, the Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (LCSA) and the Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa (FELSiSA), as well as with the independent Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane and missionaries from Lutheran Bible Translators, the Bleckmar Mission (the mission arm of the LCMS’ partner church in Germany) and the Mission of Lutheran Churches to proclaim the Gospel in southern Africa.
Both the LCSA and the FELSiSA originated from church-planting efforts of German mission societies. During the middle of the 19th century, many Germans immigrated to South Africa to support the proclamation of the Gospel among Africans by establishing colonies that could support missionaries in their church-planting efforts. The resulting LCSA continues to carry out mission work through its congregations and pastors in South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland.
Currently, a small team of LCMS career and Globally Engaged in Outreach (GEO) missionaries serve in South Africa. The ministry of the GEO missionaries includes teaching in a township Christian primary school, which is located in a historically poor area. This school is associated with St. Peter’s Confessional Lutheran Church in South Africa, a congregation of the LCSA. In addition, LCMS personnel support community outreach and an orphan AIDS project through the local LCSA congregation the village of Ntshongweni. Since the 1980s, the LCMS has supported other mercy projects, such as vocational workshops, study-abroad scholarships for theological education, a student scholarship fund for pastors’ children, seminary support, an HIV/AIDS program, and loans for retiring clergy.