About Us

The story of Jakes in Adelaide, South Australia, divides somewhat neatly into four phases, each characterised by the name of the community at the time.
The first phase is the story of Jacob’s Ladder Coffee Lounge, which runs from the beginning in 1970 through to the end of 1973. It includes significant planning for what was to follow. Over time, a stable group of workers formed and there was less reliance on volunteers from Lutheran youth groups. It was an initiative by various groups with the Lutheran Church in South Australia.
The second phase is Jacob’s Ladder Coffee House in 1974. The name change is small but significant. This was a time of rapid growth and development. The dreams of those who initiated this work were being realised, often in unexpected ways. The floor area of the coffee house at 102 Gawler Place doubled at the start of the year.
Pastor Douglas Kuhl was called as the first staff member and the scope of the ministry grew rapidly. Christians from around the country joined us and others in South Australia in Kairos ’74 which was held as part of the Adelaide Festival of Arts. A stream of people came to faith and joined the community.
The old structures with outside committees being responsible for the work no longer functioned well, and eventually the growing Jacob’s Ladder community assumed responsibility for running its own affairs.
The name changed again for the third phase, to Jacob’s Ladder Christian Community. This covers 1975 and 1976. The expansion continued, but it was also a time of consolidation. Some Government funding was obtained. More staff were employed. Community nurture houses were established. The relationship of the community with the Lutheran Church was strained, with many meetings and much correspondence.
The final phase, Servants of Christ Community runs from 1977 to the eventual close in 1979. Community houses gradually relocated to the Brompton – Renown Park area of Adelaide, and the Gawler Place Centre was closed when new premises were rented at 122 Torrens Road Renown Park. The community was clearly ecumenical with a strong Lutheran flavour, with members having come from different Christian backgrounds, or none. 


About Steen Olsen

Steen Olsen is a retired Lutheran pastor, who after his time with Jacob’s Ladder served three parishes in Australia and New Zealand and then as bishop of the Lutheran Church of New Zealand and finally as director for mission for the Lutheran Church in South Australia and the Northern Territory. His publications include Spirit Filled: Normal Christian Living (with Noel Due); bring Jesus: Making Sense of Mission; and 125 Years of Grace: St Luke’s Lutheran Church Palmerston North 1882 – 2007. He was co-founder of the Kogudus Retreat Ministry in Australia Steen outdoor doc largeand New Zealand. A post-war Danish migrant, Steen has a special interest in helping the church to be more missional in its culture, theology and practice.

Spirit Filled: Normal Christian Living can be purchased through the normal online retailers and is available, together with videos and other resources, as a free download: Spirit Filled: Normal Christian Living

bring Jesus: Making Sense of Mission is available as a free direct download  Here

A digital version of 125 Years of Grace: St Luke’s Lutheran Church Palmerston North 1882–2007 is available from the author. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Steen writes an occasional blog bring Jesus. You can subscribe at www.lca.org.au/enews … You find it under ‘LCA Districts’. He only publishes a blog when he feels he has something to say, so he doesn’t write a blog every week, or even every month.