Shepparton’s St Paul’s Lutheran Church has been the focus of world attention for its ‘‘beautiful integration’’ of African refugees, the church’s global leader has said.
The Lutheran World Federation General Secretary the Rev Dr Martin Junge visited the Shepparton church on Poplar Ave yesterday for its Sunday service held at the facility’s African House.
Geneva-based Rev Junge, on his first visit to Australia, said it was a chance to see first-hand the operations of the Shepparton church whose congregation has grown from about 30 to nearly 200 over the past 10 years.
‘‘I have been keen to know this ministry here in Shepparton. There is talk in the Lutheran World Federation and strong encouragement for what is going on here.’’
Rev Junge said an ABC Compass television documentary aired in June brought a worldwide audience to the successful growth of the church. ‘‘What I have seen here today is the beautiful integration of people from different walks of life, colour and background who have found a common ground. What you have in Shepparton is very encouraging and is being looked at by many other welcoming communities,’’ he said.
St Paul’s pastor Matt Anker said Rev Junge’s visit was an important event in church life.
He said about 160 worshippers attended the service to meet Rev Junge and the church head in Australia, Bishop John Henderson.