I recently returned from a trip to the Grand Cayman Island where some 75 people gathered on Saturday evening to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Safe Harbour Lutheran Church. This now established congregation had its beginnings as a ministry to seasonal residents and tourists during the “high season,” even more than ten years ago. However, as more and more year round residents began to attend services, they asked that the ministry be continued year round.
Dr. Charles Manske, founding president of Christ College Irvine (Now Concordia University), was instrumental in getting the mission started. Dr. Manske credits Lutheran Hour Ministries, through the work of the Area Counselor at that time, Mr. Ken Peterson, as being very helpful in establishing contacts with television and radio stations. At present the Lutheran Hour is broadcast every Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. on the Island, and is popular especially with the local Caymanians.
I was honored to be invited by the congregation to be the keynote speaker at the anniversary banquet. The pastor of Safe Harbour, Rev. Ed Auger and his wife and co-worker in the ministry, Cherie, are dear friends of Deborah’s and mine since seminary days almost 30 years ago. We spend several years as missionaries together in Guatemala and it was wonderful to see them here in this place of ministry. Since their arrival, besides all the other ministry activites, at least five adults and seven infants have been brought to the waters of baptism, including an adult who was baptized this Sunday morning.
In my presentation, I talked about how God works through people on the move. This congregation is made up mainly of people who are on the move, who come to the Cayman Islands often for 5-7 years for their work, and then move on. However, the real history of this church began around 100 years ago, when some Cayman Islanders went to the Isle of Pines, part of Cuba, to establish a fishing village. About that same time, a Rev. H.R. Oertel from Nebraska had seen an advertisement in a magazine, offering medicinal baths on the Isle of Pines. Since he was suffering from some sort of ailment, he decided to go there to dip himself in those healing waters. While there he came into contact with the English speaking Caymanians who asked him to minister to them, which he did. That began fifty years of ministry as a succession of LCMS pastors and vicars when to the Isle of Pines to minister, at first to the Caymanians, and later also to the Spanish speaking population.
Today, some of the members of Safe Harbour Lutheran are decedents of those first Caymanians who when to Cuba. They eventually came back to the Cayman Islands as committed Lutheran Christians, and soon joined the Lutheran effort here. In a sense, one could say that the Lutheran Mission to the Caymanians began 100 years ago!
On Sunday morning, March 13, more than 100 people gathered for worship with Holy Communion. The congregation is made up of people from the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Jamaica, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Germany, Australia, Canada, the United States, Honduras and other countries around the world. I think it would be safe to say that this is one of the most diverse congregations associated with the LCMS. Paul’s admonition to “accept one another as Christ has accepted you” is put into practice here. It was a wonderful experience to join this congregation of believers at this place, where each member has some very unique journeys to this place, and to a part of the Christian church. Besides plenty of time for coffee and fellowship, we worshiped together, contemplated the temptation of Jesus through Pastor Auger’s masterful analysis of that important event for understanding the person and world of Christ, partook of the Lord’s supper, and baptized on additional adult.
Pastor Klaus Has a Church in the Cayman Islands?
During our trip we stayed with Pastor and Mrs. Auger. They moved into a different apartment here on the island about a week ago and had been trying to get the water faucet fixed in the bathroom that Deborah and I are using.
The handy-man has evidently been too busy get it fixed, but the day before we arrived, Pastor Ed was talking with him again and the man asked where he was a pastor. Pastor Ed replied, “Safe Harbour Lutheran.”
The fix-it man said, “Is that Pastor Klaus’ Church?” Ed said, “Why yes. We are of the same church. Why? Do you listen to the Lutheran Hour?” The man responded firmly, “I listen to the Lutheran Hour every Sunday morning at 10:00 o’clock.”
Well, when Pastor Ed told him someone from Lutheran Hour Ministries was coming to stay with them, the man came over early the next morning with a brand new faucet in hand and installed it immediately. Pastor Ed even promised the man that if he stops over next week he might even get to meet me (I hope he isn’t confused thinking I’m Pastor Klaus!—he’ll be greatly disappointed).
At any rate, thanks, Pastor Klaus, for helping to get the faucet in the bathroom fixed where we are staying here in Grand Cayman!
Please keep Safe Harbour Lutheran Church, Pastor Ed and Cherie Auger, and the members of the congregation in your prayers as they seek to reach out with the gospel of Jesus Christ here. Also pray for our conversations as we seek ways to make more effective use of the presence of the Lutheran Hour here in the Cayman Islands.