On 4 May, the historical Lutheran presence in Coober Pedy was commemorated with the unveiling of a plaque on the site of the former Lutheran church hall, which is now part of the TAFE campus.
In April 1959, Pastor Fred Traeger arrived in Coober Pedy with his wife Gertrude to serve the spiritual and physical welfare needs of the Aboriginal community. In 1964, a site was purchased by the Lutheran Church for £500. The materials for the first church hall were brought from Adelaide and a volunteer party from Freeling built the galvanised iron-clad hall. It was officially opened in October 1964 by Pastor Clem Eckermann from Koonibba Mission.
After Pastor Traeger’s retirement in 1965, Audley Grieger served as a lay missionary from 1965 to 1972, followed by Kevin Schrapel from 1972 to 1978. The church was very active in those years, with services every Sunday, a drop-in centre, activities for the youth and a family club. Since 1978, however, there has been no official Lutheran presence in Coober Pedy, but the building has continued to serve the community.
Gordon and Rhonda Traeger unveiled the commemorative plaque. Representatives of the Finke River Mission community also attended, as well as Kevin and Ruth Schrapel.
This commemoration was initiated by the Lutheran Church in Alice Springs and supported by the Coober Pedy Historical Society.