The Hermannsburg Mission


Please Note: This is not the official home page of the Hermannsburg Mission. You will find that here (ELM).

The Hermannsburg Missionary Society was established in the small town of Hermannsburg in what was then the Kingdom of Hannover in 1849. Its founder was Ludwig (or Louis) Harms a visionary of extraordinary gifts, who spearheaded a Christian revival in large areas of Northern Germany. Part of his message was the need for missionaries to be sent out into the world, to teach the heathens about God and his son Jesus Christ.

After having investigated various possibilities for training missionaries and having found none suitable, he decided to open his own seminary in the town of Hermannsburg where he was the local pastor. The first group of young men were trained by 1853 and were sent to Africa on a ship (the Kandaze or Candace) which was built entirely from donations. The initial idea was to reach the Galla tribe in Ethiopia, but the entry was blocked by the Sultan of Mombassa, who did not want Christian missionaries in his dominions.

Having seen Port Natal on a short stop on their way around the Cape, they decided to return there before re-attempting entry into Ethiopia at a later stage. After consulting with Pastor Posselt of the Berlin Missionary Society, who was stationed at New Germany outside Port Natal, they decided to concentrate on the Zulus of Natal instead. They established their first base at New Hermannsburg, which was located just within the Colony of Natal on the border to the Zulu Kingdom. With the help of Missionary Schreuder of the Norwegian Lutheran Mission, they soon established a string of mission stations throughout Zululand. They also established the Hermannsburg School in 1856, which still exists today.

Within a few years of having established themselves in Natal, the boer administration in what was then the South African Republic invited the Hermannsburg missionaries to open mission stations among the Tswana in an area previously covered by the London Missionary Society (LMS). Rather than doubling up on the work of this society, the focus shifted eastwards and great success was achieved in reaching the people in the area around the town of Rustenburg.

The entry into Ethiopia was re-attempted a few years later but was again blocked. Instead, new thrusts in the missionary work were directed at India and Australia (where the station Hermannsburg was established on the Finke River close to Alice Springs). After the first World War both the Indian and Australian areas were given up in favour of British or American Societies. The work in South Africa continues until today and a close relationship exists with two daughter churches ELCSA and ELCSA (NT).

After World War 2 the structure of the Hermannsburg Missionary Society was changed from an independent society to one integrated into the Lutheran Church in Germany. It is supported by three churches viz. the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hannover, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brunswick and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Schaumburg-Lippe. The HMS was renamed the "Evangelical Lutheran Mission in Lower Saxony (ELM)" to indicate the wider association. At this stage the HMS also took over some responsibilities of the Leipzig Mission which found itself constrained at the time by the communist regime in East Germany.

Today the ELM is active in the following countries:

  1. South America:
    • Peru
    • Brazil
    • Chile
    • Argentina
    • Paraguay
    • Uruguay
  2. Africa:
    • South Africa
    • Swaziland
    • Botswana
    • Namibia
    • Ethiopia
    • Central African Republic
    • Madagascar
    • Malawi
  3. Asia:
    • Russia
    • India

Mission Director Pastor Michael Thiel
Georg-Haccius Straße 9, D-29320 Hermannsburg, Germany
Tel. +49-5052-69-0

Further information:

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