Christianity was brought into Namibia under the auspices of the London Missionary society (LMS) in 1806. During the first part of the 19th century, Lutherans missionaries from Germany and Finland began their mission activities in Namibia. The Finnish Missionary Society (FMS / FELM) started mission work in northern Namibia in July 1870. As the result of their efforts, congregations and parishes were established, bringing about institutionalization of the Evangelical Lutheran Ovambo-Kavango Church (ELOC) with Birger Eriksson as its first president. In 1984 ELOC’s name was officially changed to its current name (ELCIN) to reflect its national presence on the Namibian scene. In 1992, the church was demarcated into two dioceses; the Eastern and Western Diocese each led by a Bishop. One of the bishops is elected as the Presiding Bishop of the whole ELCIN.
Currently, ELCIN has a membership of 745 545 (2013) registered members, i.e. more than 34% of Namibia population. ELCIN 149 parishes located throughout Namibia. Of these parishes 62% are located in predominately rural to peri-rural areas. The concerns of ELCIN are not only for the spiritual needs, but, also for the physical; social; and economic needs. Accordingly, ELCIN started rendering social services, education and health, mainly for the communities in the Northern part of the country and gradually diversifying the interventions to other development work. Some of this work was initiated by the missionaries who had set up the churches; of special mention are the Nkurenkuru and Onandjokwe hospitals and numerous attached clinics.
The church has combined evangelism and development work as major components of its ministry. Incorporating faith with actions throughout the years has been a guiding principle for the entire church work, be it evangelism or development. The development and social services of the church are led by the diakonial arm; Department of Diakonia and Social Services. The church also has other departments such as the Department of Mission and Congregational Ministries; Department of Finance and Administration; Department of Education and Information, and Department of Businesses.
Presently, three Lutheran Churches exist in Namibia,namely: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN-GELC). In 2007, the three Lutheran Churches formed the United Church Council of the Namibia Evangelical Lutheran Churches (UCC-NELC) with the intention to strive towards unity and to have a common Lutheran voice in Namibia.
The role of the church has evolved with the times. In pre-independent Namibia, ELCIN played a major advocacy role in the struggle for independence. However, with 25 years of independence and self-rule, society continuous to demand from the church an advocacy voice on behalf of all people. Thus the strategic plans aims to excavate how ELCIN can reposition itself to address both the spiritual and physical needs of