EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH (AELC)
Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church (AELC) traces its
beginnings from the missionary efforts of the first
Lutheran missionary to Guntur, C. F. Heyer, in 1842.
"Father" Heyer was deployed by the
Ministerium of Pennsylvania, the oldest synod in
North America. Work started by the North German
Missionary Society in 1845 was turned over to the
American Lutherans in 1850. As the work spread,
Guntur became the center for general and higher
education, and Rajahmundry, an old Telugu center of
learning and culture, became the center for
theological education. The Bible training school set
up there in 1885 later became Luthergiri Seminary.
AELC was constituted in 1927. Prior to this it was a
mission of the United Lutheran Church in America
(now part of the ELCA). With more than 400,000
members, the AELC is considered the third largest
Lutheran church in Asia. It has been a member of the
LWF since 1950. It is served by 250 ordained pastors
and a large number of workers in areas of
evangelism, education, health, and other diaconic
work is mainly in the state of Andhra Pradesh, a
Telugu-speaking region. Evangelism is carried out
through film, radio, and personal work. Bible women
are effective in gaining access to Hindu and Muslim
homes. The AELC runs 500 Sunday schools. Over 30,000
women regularly study the Bible and promote the
Christian faith. Five ashrams give people of various
castes and ethnic backgrounds opportunities to live
and study together.
church operates a college of education, 19 secondary
schools, a school of law, and cooperates in running
an interdenominational college. For vocational
training, it operates an agricultural school, a
sewing school, two industrial schools for boys and
girls, and a Bible school.
Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church once had eight
hospitals, products of the work of pioneer
missionary Dr. Anna S. Kugler of Philadelphia.
Beginning in 1883, her work attracted many
influential Indian women and men. In recent years,
many of the hospitals have been turned over to the
government, but the AELC continues to operate two.
The AELC works with people suffering from leprosy,
and includes health education in its community
development work. The Christian Medical College and
Hospital in the city of Vellore is a major center
for healing and teaching.
important theological schools are located in AELC
territory. The United Theological College in
Bangalore, founded in 1910, is the main Protestant
institution for graduate theological studies. It has
one of the best theological libraries in Asia. The
Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research
Center in Madras relates to all Lutheran churches in
India. It has a strong program relating to issues of
urbanization and an accredited women's study
AELC is one of ten members of the United Evangelical
Lutheran Churches in India. The UELCI is a member of
the World Council of Churches and the Christian
Conference of Asia. The UELCI carries out mission
development in India, and has also become a member
of the United Mission to Nepal.