The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod began work in Taiwan in 1951. The China Evangelical Lutheran Church Taiwan (CELC) became an LCMS sister/partner church in 1966.
In 1967, Concordia Middle School opened in Chiayi, Taiwan, and continues to educate middle school and high school youth. More than 2,300 students attend the school. Each year, 200 graduating seniors enter the highly competitive university system of Taiwan. Concordia Middle School remains one of the CELC's most vital evangelistic tools for reaching all segments of the Taiwanese population.
In 1992, the CELC in Taiwan generated support for the establishment of China Lutheran Seminary in Hsinchu, Taiwan, which serves as a joint seminary for six Chinese Lutheran bodies and is supported by six Lutheran mission agencies. It is the only Lutheran seminary in the world that provides all of its instruction in Mandarin Chinese. The CELC has ordained a number of CLS graduates and will continue to train its pastors here. Students from all over the Greater China region study at CLS and become equipped to return as church leaders in their home countries.
In 1997 several CELC congregations in southern Taiwan formed the "Southern Taiwan Mission Alliance" in order to train leaders and plant churches. This alliance, consisting of eight congregations and hundreds of supporters, has been highly successful in helping one mission start, Faith Hope Love Lutheran Church, transition into an active part of the CELC.
In 1998, the newly formed joint CELC and LCMS World Mission "Church Development Team" expanded its ministries to a third high-rise and encouraged the most recent mission plant, Chung En Lutheran Church, toward closer formal ties with the CELC.
On Oct. 18, 1998, the LCMS and CELC entered a new era in mission work by sharing a newly ordained missionary with a U.S. congregation. Alexander Wu, a Taiwanese national, was ordained into the CELC but installed at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Carbondale, Ill., where he served two years before returning to Taiwan. This first-of-a-kind cooperation between the LCMS and CELC enabled the Gospel to be heard by hundreds of Chinese and Taiwanese students at SIU-Carbondale in their own language. In August 2000, Alex and his wife, Ruth, returned to Taiwan. Alex now serves as pastor of Salvation Lutheran Church in Chiayi, a congregation of about 50 worshipping individuals, including the LCMS GEO missionaries.
Concordia English Language Academy (CELA) is an elementary after-school program started in 2000 on the campus of Concordia Middle School, in partnership with the Concordia University System in the United States. CELA is a unique program that offers children stimulating ways to learn English as a Foreign Language by focusing on three goals:
o providing an environment where children can grow happily in the love of Jesus
o immersing students in the language by providing a 100 percent English environment
o providing students with a broader worldview, creating opportunities for new friendships.
In 2003, the CELC partnered with the LCMS to extend a call to Rev. Michael Wu, one of the first Ablaze! Alliance Missionaries. These are missionaries sent by LCMS partner churches to other countries, but who are also receiving support from LCMS World Mission. Rev. Wu is currently serving in Macau, a Special Administrative Region of China. He started his work there as an evangelist at the Concordia English Center, but is now focused on leadership training in East Asia and helps to develop curriculum to train lay leaders in the church.
LCMS World Mission continues to support the goals of Concordia Middle School and Concordia English Language Academy by providing GEO missionaries to serve as English and Bible teachers. The missionaries work alongside national teachers and serve in and out of the classroom by teaching classes and leading chapel services, Bible studies, fellowship groups, and outreach events on campus and in the community. Additionally, LCMS World Mission has sent a career missionary to serve as a professor at China Lutheran Seminary in Hsinchu, Taiwan.