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Aboriginal Ministry

Our history

The Lutheran Church was involved in Aboriginal Ministry from the very earliest days of the colony. Missionaries Schurmann and Teichelmann from the Dresden Mission Society commenced work in 1838, just two years after the establishment of the colony in 1836. They worked among the Kaurna people of the Adelaide area on the banks of the River Torrens. They established the first school for Aboriginal children using the Kaurna language. Later in 1840, Missionaries Meyer and Klose expanded work to Encounter Bay and Port Lincoln. In the early 1900s, Lutheran Mission work expanded still further to the far west coast of South Australia. 

During the early 1950s different groups of Aboriginal people in the far north west of South Australia were dispossessed of their traditional lands to allow the British Government to establish a nuclear weapons testing site at Maralinga. The people were moved south of the east-west railway line and the Lutheran Church was requested by the government of the day to establish a mission closer to the sea. This settlement became known as Yalata. The Lutheran Church of Australia relinquished control of Yalata in 1975, but has maintained a presence to communicate the Gospel.

In the mid 1980s some family groups moved back to their traditional homelands and a settlement was established 130kms north-west of Maralinga. This settlement became know as Oak Valley.

Port Augusta is situated at the top of Spencer Gulf and has a population well over 2000 Aboriginal people. Many Aboriginal people from isolated settlements from the north and west also come to Port Augusta for medical treatment and stay with relatives. So service to Aboriginal people is a large part of the ministry of the Lutheran Church in Port Augusta.

This work provides the foundation for AbMinSA’s continuing ministry in Yalata, Oak Valley, Ceduna, Koonibba, Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Port Augusta and Adelaide today.

A wave of missionary activity begun in 1867 to areas in northern South Australia and Central Australia, which resulted in the establishment of a number of mission stations. These regions in Central Australia are now managed by the Finke River Mission.

Our achievements - our challenges

From our earliest history to the present, God has blessed us by providing faithful and committed workers in each field.

At Yalata, a lay worker mentors a trainee Aboriginal pastor, works with the school and youth, and supports worship and study activities in the community. This position is financed with the aid of government project funds primarily to support the church’s work in the community. He also supports work in the Oak Valley area.

At Ceduna and Koonibba, visiting and spiritual support is carried out by part-time lay people.

At Port Lincoln, a lay worker ministers to the Aboriginal community through prison and hospital visitation, youth church and groups, confirmation classes, and by supporting the establishment of a school. An Aboriginal lay worker is also undertaking studies.

At Whyalla, the resident pastor serves the Aboriginal community on a needs basis.

At Port Augusta, a lay worker works with the resident pastor to maintain contact with and ministry to Aboriginal people in the community, aged care facility, hospital and town camp.

In Adelaide, Ferryden Park congregation has ministered to Aboriginal peoples living in the Greater Adelaide Metropolitan Area.

Due to the changing demography of urban Aboriginals and their diverse cultural backgrounds, it has given AbMinSA the opportunity and challenge to examine our ministry, particularly in the outer Adelaide suburbs.

If you would like to contribute financially to the extension of this ministry please mail your donation to:

137 Archer St,
North Adelaide SA 5006

or use the e-banking facility via the LLL.



Finke River Mission (FRM) serves the Aboriginal population across a large area of Central Australia. There are around three thousand Lutheran Aboriginals in the centre. Administration of this ministry is situated in Alice Springs and it is under the control of the FRM Board which meets in Adelaide.