Finke River Mission
Our Mission and Ministry

Finke River Mission is a ministry of the Lutheran Church of Australia. Our mission is to:

live, promote, teach and nurture the proclamation of the gospel among the indigenous people of central Australia according to the Scriptures and the Confessions of the Lutheran Church.

Finke River Mission was established in 1877 by German missionaries, who dedicated their lives to introducing the people of Central Australia to Jesus Christ. Today there are around 7000 Aboriginal Lutherans in the heart of Australia. Many live in or around Alice Springs, where Finke River Mission works in partnership with the Alice Springs Lutheran Church.

Finke River Mission’s ministry among and with the Aboriginal people covers the Arrarnta, Pitjantjatjara, Luritja, Alyawarr, Anmatyerr language areas (more about our Language Areas). Over 20 Aboriginal Lutheran pastors, all of whom are multi-lingual, proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in over 40 remote communities in central Australia. Ministry leaders (both women and men) often travel long distances to study the Scriptures together and to learn how to lead people of their own language group to know the Lord Jesus Christ.They are supported by non-Indigenous support workers.

The Finke River Mission ministry area covers 40,000 square kilometres—about the size of Victoria and Tasmania combined (and larger than Germany), in some of the most remote and beautiful parts of Australia.


Finke River Mission
Our History

Finke River Mission was established in 1877 by two German missionaries, who had set out from Tanunda in South Australia 20 months earlier. They had endured a gruelling journey through unimaginably harsh country, along waterless tracks in stifling heat. They named the mission settlement Hermannsburg, after their home town in Germany. In 1878 they were joined by a follow-up group from Germany. Despite some promising achievements, the early years were plagued with hardship, including isolation, illness, lack of medical aid, droughts, severe frosts, disappointing spiritual experiences, and unpleasant confrontations with police as the missionaries acted to protect the people from exploitation and worse. However, the missionaries persisted with language learning, translation and teaching. Today 26 Aboriginal Lutheran pastors serve more than 45 communities in the 5 main central Australian language areas, supported by Finke River Mission. More about our history …


Our Activities

For 135 years Finke River Mission has served the Indigenous people in central Australia. These services have included hospital and health, education and training, and distribution of food and clothes, as well as word and sacrament ministry and translation activities, including the Bible, hymnbooks, catechisms and Bible stories. More about our activities …


Our People

Aboriginal men and women have been working alongside the white mission workers as evangelists from the early days of the Finke River Mission. On 15 November 1964, Peter Bullah of Hermannsburg was ordained as our first Aboriginal pastor (Ingkaarta). Today there are 21 active (and 5 retired) Ingkaartas whom Finke River Mission supports through education, training and mentoring. Ordained Ingkaartas and those in training far out-number the white support workers. All of us work together, often travelling enormous distances, to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to far-flung communities.