Archive for February, 2011

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya Dioceses

Map Showing Location of ELCK Parishes

In the video below Archbishop Walter Obare explains the start of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya,  and provides information about the location of the dioceses, parishes and congregations. It is a good primer on the ELCK.

About the ELCK

The ELCK began in Kisii in 1948 with the sending of Martin Lundström of the Swedish Lutheran Mission (SLM). The tribal group in this area are the Kisii (click here for a Wikipedia article on the Kisii). This territory today is known as the South West Diocese and was the first diocese of the ELCK. As of 2008, the South West Diocese had about 25,000 members.

The second diocese of the ELCK is the Lake Diocese on Lake Victoria. The tribe from this area is predominately Luo (click here for a Wikipedia article on the Luo people). As of 2008, the Lake Diocese had about 10,000 members.

The third diocese of the ELCK is the North West Diocese. This region of Kenya was primarily evangelized by the Norwegian Lutheran Mission among the Pokot people (click here for a Wikipedia article on the Pokot). The majority of the Christians in this part of Kenya are Lutherans, followed by the Anglicans and the Roman Catholics. As of 2008, the North West Diocese had about 25,000 members.

The fourth diocese of the ELCK is the Central Diocese which boarders the other three and is the largest geographic diocese. As of 2008, the Central Diocese had about 12,000 members.

The fifth diocese of the ELCK exists constitutionally. It is the Cathedral Diocese located in Nairobi. It is the Archbishop’s diocese.

The total size of the ELCK is between 75,000 and 100,000 members with about 130 pastors.

The ELCK has been shaped by five mission societies primarily from Nordic countries: Swedish Lutheran Mission (SLM), Swedish Lutheran Evangelical Association of Finland (SLEAF), Lutheran Evangelical Association of Finland (LEAF), Norwegian Lutheran Mission (NLM), and World Mission Prayer League (WMPL). These groups all have different cultural backgrounds, philosophies on how to conduct mission, various views on the liturgy, laity, ordination, and the clergy. It makes for an interesting mix. Most recently, as of 2003, the LCMS has been involved as well.

On our trip in Kenya this past week, we visited Mombasa, Wema, Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret, Kitale, Kapenguria, and Chepareria. The only region we did not get to see was the northern region where the drought is occurring.

Rev. Albert B Collver, Ph.D.
LCMS Director of Church Relations – Assistant to the President

Othoro Rescue Kisumu Kenya

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Othoro Rescue Center for Boys

Pictured above are the boys at the Othoro Rescue Center. Currently, there are about 58 boys housed here. The center has broken new ground to expand so that 100 boys can be housed at the center. Roger Weinlaeder speaks about the LCMS and ELCK partnership in Project 24 and 1001 Orphans.

The Othoro Center along with Udom Rescue Center are two of the model centers for orphanages in the ELCK. The Othoro Center was constructed as a partnership between LCMS World Relief and Human Care and Project 24 in 2006.

The Othoro Center was dedicated by Rev. Matthew C. Harrison in 2006, when he served as the Executive Director of LCMS World Relief and Human Care.
As with most of the ELCK’s orphan centers, there is a congregation located on site. Archbishop Obare many years ago served at the Othoro parish.
The 1001 Orphan Program is more than “human care.” The orphan program run by the ELCK cares for the entire person, body and soul.

The children compete in Bible clubs to creatively learn the Catechism. The video below is a short excerpt demonstrating how the children learn the catechism.

We heard several groups of children recite the catechism in creative ways. It was amazing to see the children compete with one another over the catechism.

Boys playing the drums at the Othoro Congregation

Leaving the Othoro Rescue Center

I had hoped to post more but am currently in Amsterdam and need to run to catch my flight… more later…

Rev. Albert B Collver, Ph.D.
LCMS Director of Church Relations – Assistant to the President


My elliptical machine has a display screen on it where you can monitor your distance, time, calories burned and heart rate while you work out. I especially like watching my heart rate during the last few minutes when I sprint to the end. Sprinting is good. You are intensely focused on the goal and block out the rest of the world and you can even block out any pain you feel in your ankles, knees or lungs. There is great satisfaction when you reach your goal after pushing yourself hard – past beyond what you thought you could do. The problem though is you can’t sprint forever. Eventually you have to stop.

During these economic times, many people feel like they can’t afford to stop. On the other hand, they secretly know they can’t sprint forever. They work longer hours, work on weekends, work all day and then come home and work at night, take phone calls from work but don’t return phone calls from a family member, work on emails rather than working out at the gym. The demands are great, the burdens are heavy, and many people struggle with complicated challenges and circumstances. How long can people last sprinting like this?

It is true that every situation will demand a different level of effort and every person will have to decide how to “run their race,” when to sprint and when to pull back and rest.

Here are a couple of thoughts I’ve had for myself. Maybe they are helpful to you.

1.  Don’t forget the rest of the race. There is a whole lot of the race that happens before the sprint. If you are running a long race, like most of us do with our jobs, family, and church, you can’t sprint the entire race. Believe me, you will eventually lose. Manage the race prior to the sprint and then the sprint, when necessary, is doable.

2. Challenge any preconceived limitations and the lies. Messages you tell yourself like “I can’t do that” or “I’m afraid what might happen” or “what if I fail” or “just this one time” or “I’ll make it up to my child this weekend” get in the way of healthy living.  Lies and fears often times fool us into unnecessarily sprinting, giving up too soon, or not even trying.

3. Watch the display screen. Listen to people around you for clues as to whether or not you need to start sprinting or to rest. Their input is invaluable for monitoring your progress. Stay in God’s Word and listen to His voice. Remind yourself of God’s grace, keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith.

Every time I catch myself sprinting unnecessarily through life, I need to run to the cross in confession to God for making myself out to be more powerful than He. My faith is certain that God gives strength but my sinful side does not want to be weak.

Martin Luther wrote about this battle between sprinting and resting in his commentary on Isaiah 40:29 – “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength”. His words really struck a chord with me:

“God gives strength to the weary, the oppressed, and the troubled. The emphasis lies on the word “faint”, but we look for the stress on the word “power”. It is as if God were saying: “You must be weary and emptied, so that there is now way out for you. Then I will give you strength. First you must become nothing, then consolation and strength will come.” This happened to me, Martin Luther, who against my will came up against the whole world, and then God helped me. Summary” The Word of God is the Word of those who are lying under sin and weakness. Therefore let us learn to console ourselves when we are afflicted and say, “What I do not have and what I  cannot do, that Christ has and can do.”

Luther’s Works: Lectures on Isaiah Chapters 40-66, (p.31)

Incredibly powerful words about our powerful God!

– Barb Below

Udom Rescue Center Part 2 and Lake Victoria

Friday, February 11, 2011

The children at the Udom Chepareria Rescue Center gave us a warm greeting of song when we arrived after a 2 1/2 hour drive from Eldoret. The Udom Rescue Center is in the territory of the Pokot Tribe. In Kenya, Christianity among the tribes has expressed itself primarily as Anglicanism or Roman Catholicism. In the Pokot Tribe, the majority of the Christians are Lutheran. In fact, the Anglicans and the Roman Catholics look to the Lutherans for social care, etc. Bishop William Lopeta oversees the pastors in the North West Diocese.

The singing went on for almost an hour. The children then began to sing, “I Love You Jesus.”

The view from the Udom Rescue Center is gorgeous.

Here is a view of the new dinning hall.

After visiting the Udom Rescue Center, we drove for 6 hours to Kisumu. Today, we will visit sites around Kisumu including the first rescue center the LCMS assisted the ELCK in Othoro, named after Matthew Harrison. Last night, we checked into a hotel, the Sunset Hotel, on Lake Victoria. Below was the view from my window this morning.
I had hoped to share more photos today, but even with the hotel internet, the uploading of the two short video clips took well over an hour. Time to hit the road in the environs of Kisumu.
Rev. Albert B Collver, Ph.D.
LCMS Director of Church Relations – Assistant to the President

Udom Chepareria Rescue Center

The Udom Chepareria Rescue Center is a partnership between the ELCK and the LCMS, including 1001 Orphans, Project 24, LCMS WR-HC, and Concordia Lutheran Ministries. Currently, the center has about 62 children in the program with the capacity for 30 more children. This center is located about 2 1/2 hours away from Eldoret.

Collver with Bishop William Lopeta, Bishop of the Northwest Diocese.

Unfortunately, I did not make the dedication in April due to the volcano in Iceland.

Evangelist Wilson said that it is the task of Christ’s church to care for the entire person, both the body and the soul. This rescue center takes care of the material needs of the body, food and shelter, and Christian education consisting of the Bible and Small Catechism along with church attendance.

A church that will hold about 800 people is being constructed on the site of the center.

Concordia Lutheran Ministries donated motor bikes to the deaconesses so that they can visit the children more easily.

Deaconess Grace (pictured here) travels more than 200 kilometers to see the children assigned to her. The motor bike will make her job much easier as she no longer has to rely on public transportation.

The deaconess symbol for the ELCK has the Luther Rose on it.

Districts President Fondow and James Baneck are pictured with Bishop Lopeta and Archbishop Obare.

I hope to post more about the Udom Chepareria Rescue Center with video later once a faster Internet connection can be found.

Rev. Albert B Collver, Ph.D.
LCMS Director of Church Relations – Assistant to the President
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