The beginning - 1921
The driving force behind the establishment of the Lutheran Laypeople’s League (LLL) was Mr Ben Koch. He had a vision that a pool of money could be established, and this could become a revolving fund to promote, encourage and achieve church development. Funds could be loaned or grants given to assist church mission projects. After a number of meetings between Ben and other lay members, The Lutheran Laymen’s League (as it was originally called) commenced in November 1921. Initially, the pool of funds was established through gifts from members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia (ELCA).
The original intention of the LLL was that providing financial support through the LLL should not detract from the responsibility of congregation members giving through the weekly offering plate at church.
‘By June 1922 the LLL had received 570 pounds from 24 contributors. Of the total money in hand 560 pounds came from 13 South Australian supporters. In June 1923 contributors had risen to around 500, and funds received to over 1,000 pounds. Although the number of contributors remained about the same, circulating capital by 1929 was over 4,000 pounds.’ (From Strength to Strength, John B. Koch, 1996)
The funds of the LLL grew slowly in those early years, due mainly to the Great Depression and periodic droughts throughout Australia.
Post World War 2 growth
In the late 1940s, the LLL introduced savings accounts in addition to the pool of donations originally set up. From that time, funds have grown substantially.
‘In terms of actual money the growth of the LLL was such that listed assets of around 16,500 pounds in 1941 grew to exceed one million pounds by 1962. The following year loan deposits alone were over the million [pound] mark. By June 1966 assets were over three and a quarter million dollars.’ (Koch, 1996)
Lutheran Church of Australia - 1966
In 1966, the two main Lutheran Synods, namely the ELCA and the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia (UELCA), united to form the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA). As Koch (1996) states, ‘The role of the LLL in this new Church was constitutionally clarified as that of the Church Extension Department of the LCA. This meant that the functions of the LLL were in no way altered, but the context for operations was enlarged’.
1971 – The LLL introduced Earmarked or Matching Deposits as there was more demand for loans than there were funds available. This relationship between savings accounts and loans encourages local support for a particular project.
1972 – In October, interest rates were fixed for savings accounts at 4.5%, and 5% for all loans. That same year, LCA Tract Mission was launched.
1981 – The LLL moved to its purpose-built property at 175 Archer Street, North Adelaide. Prior to this, the LLL had always shared office space with entities of the Church.
1983 – LCA Property Provident Fund (now called LCA Insurance Fund) began operations as part of the support services provided by the LLL.
1995 – The Lutheran Laymen’s League was renamed the Lutheran Laypeople’s League.
2002 – In April, the LLL launched an internet access option for all account holders called LLL@Home.
2003 – The interest rate for savings accounts was changed from 4.5% to 4.0%. This was the first alteration since 1972 (some 31 years). The loan rate remained at 5%.
2005 - Launches and administers LCA Online Donations & Payments.
2007 - Begins administering LCA Subscriptions including The Lutheran and the Lutheran Theological Journal.
2009 - Depositor balances hit $500,000,000.
2011 - LLL turns 90 and has a logo change 'Finance with a mission'.
2014 - Begins administering the Lutheran Women magazine subscriptions.
Legacies and donations
Significantly, throughout the history of the LLL many people have left legacies or donations to the LLL. One reason why the LLL has benefited is that monies provided to the LLL are 'always lent - never spent' which means the capital amount of the gift is preserved within the LLL Permanent (Capital) Funds. To know that your gift is going to support grants for the mission of the LCA in perpetuity is something which is very attractive to many people.
Administrative support to the LCA
In addition to providing finance for development, the LLL has over the years administered many funds of the LCA. The LLL currently administers and carries out the accounting work for the Pensions Fund, Provident Fund, Car Grants Fund, LCA subscriptions (The Lutheran, Lutheran Theological Journal and Lutheran Women magazines) and the LCA Insurance Fund. It also carries out the accounting work for the LCA and the LCA South Australia/Northern Territory District.
As the LLL continues to grow in its support of the LCA, it will always be in accord with its constitutional mandate: ‘The purpose and object of the League shall be to provide aid to the Lutheran Church of Australia in business and financial matters’.
Stories from the recipients of grants and loans within the LCA are published in the annual Together in mission publication.
We pray that the people will continue their support, so that the LLL can continue its history of support to the LCA to enable the Church to reach out to others in Australia and throughout the world.
The latest financial information about the LLL is in the current Annual Report.