Our Southwest California Synod has “companion” relationships with two global partners – Hong Kong and El Salvador. This means that we walk with them in their ministries. Delegations from our synod visit them on a regular basis – recently at least once every two years. We explore ways in which we can “walk together” – get to know each other, share insights about ministry, give aid where needed (prayer, support, resources, materials, money), and host visitors who come here.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hong Kong (ELCHK) has been our Companion Synod since 1990. Hong Kong is a modern city of about 7 million people. The ELCHK has nearly 16,000 members in 52 congregations. There is an emphasis on education with several kindergartens, primary and secondary schools and student centers. Family service centers involve all ages with special elderly services. The Lutheran Theological Seminary has over 400 students and is the primary center for theological education for the Asian Christian world with about 10% of the student body from Myanmar, Nepal, China, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The ELCHK also has a publishing house for Bible commentaries, devotional and theological books and hymnals.
Iglesia Luterana Salvadoreña
El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. About the size of Massachusetts, its population is over 6.2 million. There are about 15,000 Lutherans in 60+ congregations – the largest Lutheran Church in Central America. Along with several schools, a homeless ministry and a Lutheran University, they compose the Iglesia Luterana Salvadoreña (ILS) – The Salvadoran Lutheran Church. It has been our Companion Synod since 2010.
A major influence on the Salvadoran people is the Civil War 1980-1992, during which 75,000 persons were killed. Each family has stories to tell about that horrible time. Many Lutheran congregations serve returning refugees and subsistence-level communities. Even though their history is full of tragedy, the people are hopeful, prayerful, and fun-loving. The church is a center of community life where the gospel is preached with enthusiasm and where there is also an emphasis on education, training of leaders, and addressing of health issues, human rights and advocacy. Five congregations of our Synod have sister partnerships with Salvadoran congregations.