Thursday, September 05, 2019

St John’s Lutheran Church in West Goroka celebrates 50 years


St John’s Lutheran Church in West Goroka, an urban church which has figured in the spiritual lives of many Papua New Guineans, this month celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Last month, while in Goroka, I bumped into resident pastor Grahamme Baital (pictured), who invited me to be present for the occasion.
Pastor Grahamme Baital

I have a long history with the church, starting from 1975-1977, when I attended Sunday School classes here.
Dad was the senior primary school inspector for Eastern Highlands at that time and a prominent layman leader of the church while mum was with the Gejamsaoc (women's group).
From 1998-2002, when my late wife and I were here, we were also part of the St John’s congregation.
There are many Papua New Guineans just like me who have passed through St John’s over the last 50 years.
“On Sept 29, St John’s is celebrating 50 years of serving as an urban congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea,” Baital said.
“The significance of the celebration is that St John’s was one of the pioneer urban congregations that was established in the days when urban ministry was not fully developed.
“It was established especially for a young, upcoming generation of Papua New Guineans, who were educated at universities, colleges and other institutions around the world.
“That was the purpose of building the congregation at that time.
“This year, we’re celebrating 50 years of this urban ministry serving young, educated, indigenous Christians of this nation.
“Many Papua New Guineans who have come to Goroka would have had the opportunity to come across this congregation, because at that time, there were not many denominations established in Goroka Town.”
Baital said the church had a long history and there was much to celebrate.
“Our celebration has the theme, ‘Appreciating the Past, Celebrating the Present and Envisioning the Future’,” he said.
“The organising committee for the event has organised three separate activities for the event.
“On Sept 27, we have an urban ministry seminar which focuses on developing concepts related to urban ministry in PNG context.
“We have guest speakers from Australia, including pioneer pastor and missionary Reverend Brian Schwartz and his son Nick, who was formerly here serving as a research officer with the Melanesian Institute, and is now serving as Asia-Pacific coordinator of the Australian church.
“We will also have Reverend Murray Thomas, who was one of the pastors here, and one of the vocal people to prioritise urban ministry.
“In today’s context, that would be relevant to the needs and aspirations of our people, especially members of the church.”
Sept 28 will feature a cultural day along with Thanksgiving, which is an annual programme of the church.
“We will have Christian brothers and sisters coming all the way from Simbang (Finschhafen), which is the original landing place of the Gospel of the Lutheran Church, as well as those from St Andrew’s Parish (Lae), and another group from Siassi which is my home district, as well as other cultural groups from Eastern Highlands,” Baital said.
“The theme is ‘Celebrating Christ in Culture’.
“On Sunday, we have the 50th Anniversary Service.”
Baital said many prominent Papua New Guineans would grace the occasion with their presence.
“We thank God for giving us this opportunity to celebrate our 50th anniversary,” he said.
“It’s an opportunity to appreciate everybody who’s been part of the church.”
Further information can be obtained from Baital on phone 73027023 or email, or chairman Himony Lapiso 71415527.


  1. Congratulations St. Johns Goroka for the 50 years anniversary of celebrating God's blessings in reaching lives of many who have passed through your church.

  2. Thanks for the above. I have sent it ,to Pastor Murray Thomas .He and Edith , are looking forward to ,being at St Johns, Goroka .Murray takes Urban Mission seriously.God bless him.