Rt. Rev. Steven Lawrence was Consecrated and Installed as the 5th Bishop of ELCM on 4th July 2020 at Zion Cathedral, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He succeeded Bishop Solomon Rajah who served as the 4th Bishop of ELCM from 2009.
Bishop Steven Lawrence was born on 29th March 1978 in Penang, Malaysia. He was the second child of Lawrence Samuel and Fatima Mary. He attended SK St. Xavier Branch, Penang for his primary education and St. Xavier’s Institution, Penang for his secondary education. He was an active member of the Boys’ Brigade of the 2nd Penang Company (1994-1995), during which time he learned about Christian stewardship. He answered the call of God for full-time ministry at the age of 22, and shortly after pursued his theological education in Seminari Theoloji Malaysia (STM), graduating with DipCM (2001), BTh (SEAGST 2005) and MMin (2017). While at the Seminary, he represented STM in Asia Conference of Theological Students (ACTS 2004) organised by Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) & FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences) and ELCM in International Youth Leaders’ Consultation (IYLC 2005), organised by Mission OneWorld of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria (ELCB), Germany.
He was commissioned as Candidate to the Holy Ministry on 18th September 2005 by Bishop Julius D. Paul while undergoing his in-house training under the supervision of Bishop, Rt. Rev. Dr. Solomon Rajah. While serving as a commissioned Candidate to the Holy Ministry, he married Susan Ann on 25th February 2006, a union that led to three children – Samantha Ann, 12 years, Samuel Anbuselvan 7 years and Samson Anbunesan 2 years.
After a period of in-house training, he was ordained as pastor of ELCM on 31st October 2006 at Zion Cathedral by Bishop Julius D. Paul. Between the years 2005 – 2020, he served as a candidate to the Holy Ministry in Charis Lutheran Outreach, Seremban (2005-2006) & Rasah Lutheran Outreach, Seremban (2005-2006), he was pastor-in-charge of Good Hope Lutheran Congregation, Petaling Jaya (2006-2008), Light of Life Lutheran Outreach, Petaling Jaya (2007-2008), Cheras Lutheran Congregation, Cheras (2008-2011), Kajang Lutheran Outreach (2010-2011), Resurrection Lutheran Congregation, Port Dickson (2012-2014), Rasah Lutheran Outreach, Seremban (2012-2014, 2015-2016 voluntarily), Seremban Lutheran Congregation, Seremban (2017 voluntarily, 2018 to date – fulltime capacity) and Kuala Pilah Lutheran Outreach, Kuala Pilah (2019 to date). He has also served as the Southern District Pastor (2013-2014 & 2018-2019).
Bishop Steven Lawrence has a deep interest in ELCM’s Diakonia ministry. He has served as Pastoral Adviser & Chaplain of Rumah Hope, (2006-2008), Pastoral Adviser & Chaplain of Rumah Chrestus (2008-2011) Acting-Administrator of Rumah Chrestus (2008-2009), Pastoral Adviser of Rumah Luther Ria (2012-2014) and Acting Director of Rumah Luther Ria (2014). These roles have also made a significant impact in his life and he believes that Diakonia ministry is vital as it creates an opportunity for the church to serve a wider community.
He has also held several church-related offices including Diocesan Youth Coordinator (2007-2008), Diocesan Youth Advisor (2008-2011, 2018 to date), Assistant Editor, Lutheran Herald (2009-2012, 2018 to date), Administrator – Diocesan Office (2012), Hon. Secretary – ELCM Ministerial Committee (2009-2014), Hon. Secretary – Abraham Education Fund (2010 to date), Ordinary Council Member, Diocesan Council (2011-2014), Advisor – Diocesan Sunday School Committee (2018 to date) and Vice-Chairman – Diocesan Council (2017- June 2020). Before he was elected as the 5th Bishop, he also served as the Director of the Diocesan Christian Education Resource & Mission Centre (2018-2019).
Bishop Steven Lawrence has presented a few papers during the ELCM Diocesan Assembly in Port Dickson, 2009 entitled “Future of Traditional Mainline Churches like the ELCM,” “Growth and Decline of Congregations in ELCM” in Melaka, 2016 and “Lutheran Response to Prosperity Theology” during the Lutheran-Pentecostal/Charismatic Conversation in Malaysia in Petaling Jaya, 2018.
He has vast overseas experience, first when he was an Asia Lutheran News (ALN) liaison for Lutheran churches in Malaysia (2013-2014) and secondly when he was appointed as LWF Regional Officer for the Expression of Communion in Asia under the LWF Department for Mission and Development from 2014 – 2017 during which time he was responsible to assist in promoting communication and information sharing among LWF member churches in Asia and mission agencies, amongst other things through LWF Asia website (https://asia.lutheranworld.org/), he liaised with the DMD Area Secretary for Asia in Geneva, with Lutheran Council in Asia (LUCAS) and with the member churches in Asia on programmatic activities and processes, visited member churches, seminaries and their projects sites as delegated by the DMD Area Secretary for Asia, regularly coordinated the exchange of information in the region and on expressed needs of churches, managed and organised regional/sub-regional activities as well as provided logistical assistance for LWF meetings held in the region and performed other duties as may be delegated by the DMD Area Secretary for Asia or by the Director of the Department for Mission and Development in Geneva.
Bishop Steven Lawrence is humbled by the decision of the Diocesan Assembly that elected him as the 5th Bishop of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malaysia on the 9th of November 2019 to take up the mantle from Rt. Rev. Dr. Solomon Rajah. He hopes to serve the interest of the ELCM and the community at large with his vast experience and exposure both locally and internationally as God Almighty grants him the wisdom, knowledge and the understanding that he requires to serve God’s will (John 3: 16).