New (current) Bethlehem Church

Hermannsburg Historic Precinct and Finke River Mission Today

The history of the Arrarnta Lutheran community is constantly evolving. Today, the mission building lay empty and they sit alongside the growing town of Ntaria. The ownership of the heritage precinct is in the hands of the local Western Arrarnta people who are represented by the Hermannsburg Historical Society, with the Finke River Mission acting as managers. Through close cooperation between these two bodies, this nationally significant heritage site is maintained and operated.

The Finke River Mission of the Lutheran Church of Australia, established in 1877 when the first missionaries arrived at this site, is still very active in Central Australia, training and supporting Lutheran men and women as church leaders in their own communities and family groups. Geographically, this area covers the entire southern part of the Northern Territory; an area larger than Victoria, or about the size of Germany.

In 2014, there were 25 Aboriginal pastors, as well as over 40 other pastoral trainees and female church leaders, delivering the Gospel message to over 6,000 Central Australian Lutherans, in English and in their own languages, including Luritja, Western Arrarnta, Pitjantjatjara, Anmatjere and Alyawarr.

In Alice Springs, the Finke River Mission works in partnership with the Alice Springs Lutheran congregation, ministering to the local Aboriginal people and works with Lutheran Community Care, which provides community training and support programs in Alice Springs and the surrounding communities.

The Finke River Mission also operates the Hermannsburg General Store at the request of the local community, and Yirara College a coeducational boarding school for around 200 Aboriginal students, with campuses in Alice Springs and Kintore.