Church members gather to remember arrival of first missionaries

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By MICHAEL LAI
MEMBERS of the Gutnius Lutheran Church gathered for a week-long celebration of their 70th anniversary in Wapenamanda, Enga, last week.
The four-day gathering rekindled memories of the first missionaries who arrived in 1948 at Yaramanda, in Wapenamanda.
The Yaramanda Sukutea congregation took the initiative to host the event with the support of the Wauni tribe.
Congregation chairman Anis Ripa said the gathering was a celebration of the birth of the church in the area and spread of the gospel to other parts of the province.
The worship programme began with baptism, confirmation and other activities.
“Gutnius Lutheran Church of PNG has 550 congregations, 125,000 baptised members, 100,000 communicant members and 250 active pastors,” Ripa said.
“It all began here in 1948. The first Missouri Synod (USA) missionaries settled at Yaramanda.
“Minjuku Yasima, a local tribal leader of the Wauni tribe, had met missionaries in Olgebeng, in the Western Highlands.
“He was so interested to hear the good news which they had brought.
“He took the initiative to walk there, with a night’s rest on the way, and asked for the missionaries to go to his place at Yaramanda.
Rev H Freund and Rev Patrick Kleinig, from Australia, and Dr Willard Burce and Dr Otto Hintze, from the United States, were the first missionaries in the province.

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