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Dr Rolph Mayer


Emeritus Lecturer

Dr Rolph Mayer taught at ALC from 1968 to 1995 in the areas of Education and Biblical Studies. On his retirement from full-time teaching the December 1996 edition of the Lutheran Theological Journal (LTJ 30/3) contained an editorial tribute and articles written in his honour. Rolph served as the principal of Lutheran Teachers College from 1970 to 1987.


Rolph Mayer was born in 1929 in Toowoomba, QLD. His parents, Jakob and Christina, were immigrants from French-occupied Rhineland in post-war Germany. Rolph had three older brothers and an older sister born in Germany and two younger sisters born in Australia. He lived on dairy farms in south-east Queensland with his family.

During the Second World War, a number of his family were interned, so he was sent to Adelaide to Immanuel College to study, to avoid anti-German harrassment. He studied here from 1943 to 1946. He then went with a number of friends to study at Immanuel Seminary from 1947 to 1950. He was ordained in 1951 at the age of just 21, in South Brisbane. He was called to the Lower Murray Home Mission, and to assist Pastor John Doehler at Murray Bridge, SA.

He married Margaret Hentschke in 1954 and they had three children.

He was called as chaplain to Immanuel College in 1955, but was soon appointed House Master for the Boys’ Boarding House. Here, he was in charge of 110 to 120 teenaged boys a year for about ten years. His philosophy of respect for students and a good working relationship with his prefects enabled him to thrive in what a teacher in his memoirs describes as ‘the lowest form of servitude known to man’. He was heavily involved in the shift of the college from Walkerville to Camden Park in 1957. During his years at Immanuel as house master/chaplain/teacher he completed his studies at the University of Adelaide, gaining a BA and DipSecEd.

In 1966, he took leave to visit Lutheran colleges in the USA, public schools in the UK, and a secondary school in Germany. When he returned, it was to the role of chaplain only at Immanuel College for 1967.

Rolph Mayer was a foundation member with Principal Elvin Janetzki of the faculty of Lutheran Teachers College (LTC) at Highgate in 1968. He taught in the areas of Education and Biblical Studies. Rolph served as the LTC principal  from 1970 to 1987. During these years, he helped to train a steady stream of teachers and other graduates who remember Rolph with great affection. His rapport with them enabled him to shape each annual internal class into a tightly-knit friendship group, a lasting tradition of LTC.

He served on a number of committees, the more notable being, before union, the Intersynodical Committee, and, after union, the Commission on Theology and the Lutheran-Uniting Church dialogue. In 1972, he went to the USA to do postgraduate study in the area of the Old Testament at Concordia Seminary, St Louis. He returned there again in 1982, completing his Master of Sacred Theology in the area of New Testament.

He continued to teach at Lutheran Teachers College when it moved to the campus of Luther Seminary in North Adelaide in 1990. He retired from full-time teaching at the end of 1995, having served a record 28 years on the teaching staff.

After retirement he worked in vacant parishes all over Australia and in New Zealand. He also spent a term lecturing at the seminary in Lae, Papua New Guinea, and six months in a parish in Cardiff, Wales. In 2009, he was granted the Honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity by Australian Lutheran College.

ALC positions held

  • Principal, Lutheran Teachers College, 1970–1987

Qualifications in detail

  • Bachelor of Arts (University of Adelaide, 1965)
  • Diploma of Education (Secondary) (University of Adelaide, 1965)
  • Master of Sacred Theology (Concordia Seminary, St Louis, 1982)
  • Doctor of Divinity (honorary doctorate, Australian Lutheran College, 2009)

Papers and publications



In times of crisis: commentary on Habakkuk. Chi Rho Commentary. Adelaide, SA: Openbook.



‘The Confessions, the public ministry and the ordination of women.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 31, no. 2: 82–88.


‘Old Testament interpretation and the lay leader.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 26, no. 1: 44–50.


The significance of the healing miracles in Matthew chapters 8 and 9. STM thesis, Concordia Seminary, St Louis, MO.

‘A battlefield revisited.’ Lutheran Student 5: 5–6.


Studies in Old Testament themes. Revised ed. North Adelaide, SA: Lutheran Teachers College.


‘“Faith” in Luther’s 1531 Galatians Lectures and in the Fourth Article of the Augsburg Confession.’ Lutheran Theological Journal 7, no. 1: 25–33.

‘LTC: truly a rare bird.’ Rara Avis 6: 1–2.