Archive for January, 2012
|In Front of Evangel Temple Evangelical Lutheran Church|
This evening, 3 January 2011, the pastors and church leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia held a farewell dinner for the LCMS guests at the Evangel Temple Evangelical Lutheran Church. There was singing, short speeches, and excellent West African food.
|Choir Singing at Farewell Dinner|
Before dinner, Bishop Amos Bolay addressed the group, speaking about how fellowship is not the work of men but of God. Bishop Bolay said, “The Lord creates fellowship among church bodies.” While in light of the fellowship discussions between the ELCL and the LCMS, the natural assumption was that Bishop Bolay was speaking of the events from the past few days. In reality, Bishop Bolay spoke of the fellowship the Lord created between the four Lutheran groups in Liberia that merged into one in May of 2009, forming the ELCL. Then he spoke how the coming of the LCMS delegation to Liberia also was the Lord’s work. An example that Bishop Bolay offered to demonstrate the Lord’s hand in the meeting was the alignment of all participants calendars. The group found this comment amusing. On a more serious note, Bishop Bolay said that prior to the unification of 2009, the LCMS would not have known with which of the four Lutheran groups to hold talks. Yet since the unification occurred, there is one ELCL for the LCMS to relate. Thanks was offered to the Lord and to the LCMS guests for coming to Liberia. Next came the presentation of gifts.
|Presentation of Gifts|
Each of us were given a West African (Liberian) style shirt.
|Naomi and Joyce Erber|
The women were gifted first, then the men.
|Rose Bolay, Dr. Lehenbauer, Bishop Bolay|
The choir continued to sing during the presentation of gifts.
|Rose, Dr. Erber, Bishop Bolay|
The shirt worn by Bishop Bolay commemorates the unification of the ELCL in May 2009.
|Dr. Michael Rodewald Addresses the Group|
After the presentation of gifts, the LCMS delegation was invited to give a response. Dr. Mike Rodewald, LCMS Regional Director for Africa, presented first. He thanked the ELCL and commended them on their hard work. He echoed some of Bishop Bolay’s remarks, chiefly that the way events unfolded were the work of God not of men. He also reiterated how it was that Bishop Bolay ended up in St. Louis in October 2010 when he requested fellowship with the LCMS. Dr. Rodewald invited Dr. Collver to bring closing remarks.
|Dr. Collver Offers Closing Remarks|
Dr. Collver’s remarks centered around 1 Corinthians 1:2 (with some contextualization): “To the church of God that is in [Liberia], to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” The Lord calls his church together. He called the four Lutheran church bodies in Liberia into one. The Lord might also call the ELCL and the LCMS into fellowship. Dr. Collver also said, somewhat but not entirely tongue in check, that some time would have to be spent in Saint Louis explaining an important detail. In America, we are accustomed to churches splitting or breaking away from another church body, not coming together to form one body. He remarked that it might take some time to explain that these churches came together rather than broke away from another larger church. Thanks was given to the Lord and dinner was served.
|A Hat from the ELCL’s Convention|
|Dr. Mike Rodewald Talks with Members of the ELCL|
On this building, the Lutheran “colors” of yellow and green are seen.
|Dr. Collver and Bishop Bolay|
The trip to Liberia in general and to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia in particular educated and encouraged the LCMS delegation. As devastating as the Liberian civil war was, the Lord worked good by strengthening churches. Liberia as a country has a theme of “unification.” The theme of “unification” also is echoed in the church, yet unlike the secular nation which seeks unity for unity’s sake (or for the well-being of the nation), the church is drawn together by the Lord Jesus through the preaching of His Word and the giving out of His forgiving gifts in the Sacraments. Like any church the ELCL has challenges, but is moving forward trusting in the promises of the Lord. As for fellowship between the ELCL and LCMS, Drs. Collver and Lehenbauer will make recommendations to President Harrison and the CTCR, and an announcement regarding a decision should occur around May 2012 (after the next CTCR meeting).
|Sunset at Close of Day|
On a final note, the missionary staff in Africa — both Dr. Michael Rodewald, Regional Director, and Dr. Erber and his family — did a remarkable job of preparatory work for the fellowship dialogs between the ELCL and LCMS. Dr. Erber took care of all the arrangements, making it easy for the team from Saint Louis. Dr. Rodewald, first came to Liberia, in the early 1980s, were he labored to translate the Holy Scriptures into the local language until the Liberian civil war. Dr. Rodewald actually lived in Liberia during the beginning of the war, only to be evacuated later. Dr. Erber has lived in Nigeria for the past 18 years with his family, but makes frequent trips to Liberia. He has been involved with Liberia in particular for the past several years. If not for the Lord’s use of Drs. Rodewald and Erber as his instruments in Liberia, it is hard to imagine that fellowship talks would have occurred between the ELCL and the LCMS. Both of these men built on the work of those who went before them… (the trouble with offering thanks is that someone will be forgotten or not mentioned). In any case, as the church, the LCMS has been blessed by the instruments the Lord has provided her for His service.
|Dr. Lehenbauer, Noami and Dr. Erber, Bishop Bolay, Drs. Collver and Lehenbauer|
On the way back from the visit with the Liberian Vice President, we stopped at the ELWA (Eternal Love Winning Africa) Compound along the coast.
Bishop Amos Bolay, Vice-President of the Republic of Liberia Joseph N. Boakai, Rev. Dr. Albert Collver
This morning we had the privilege of meeting with Joseph N. Boakai, Vice-President of the Republic of Liberia.
Dr. Mike Rodewald, Bishop Amos Bolay, Vice-President Joseph N. Boakai, Dr. Albert Collver, Dr Joel Lehenbauer, Dr. David Erber
Although Lutheranism has been in Liberia for 150 years, we had opportunity to explain how the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia came into existence in 2009. Bishop Bolay emphasized to the Vice-President that the ELCL was not a break away group from the Lutheran Church of Liberia (LCL), but rather the union of four separate groups that came together. He explained the connection the ELCL has with The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Bishop Bolay politely explained some of the differences between the LCMS and the ELCA.
We had opportunity to give greetings to the Vice-President on behalf of President Harrison and the people of the LCMS. As well as describe the work of the LCMS around the world, particularly in the area of education and humanitarian work. We gave the Vice President a booklet describing the LCMS.
Dr. Collver asked the Vice-President what the greatest challenge Liberia faced. The Vice-President replied, “Harnessing the energy of Liberia’s youth in a productive way.” He went on to explain this is why educational and vocational programs were essential to Liberia’s future.
The Vice-President also noted some differences between America and Africa in general. He said in America the people waste little time and are very efficient. In Africa, lots of time is wasted but in the process many friends are made.
We thanked him for his time and the friendship he showed us and closed with prayer.
Vice President Joseph N. Boakai and Naomi Erber
– Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, Director of Church Relations
Posted in Monrovia, Liberia on 3 January 2011.
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
|St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lynch Street, Monrovia|
St. John’s was founded in 1992. Many of the congregations are formed around ethic groups. As a result, each congregation uses different types of drums.
|Drums from St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church|
Next to the church is a coffin workshop.
|Coffin Next to the Church|
As we traveled Bishop Bolay said that there is a big need for training pastors in the ELCL. He lamented, “We have pastors who do not know the Small Catechism. We do two or three day training workshops, trying to train pastors. The workshops create a lot of excitement and encourage the pastors to study.” This is reminisce of the condition of some congregations at the time of the Reformation, when Dr. Martin Luther lamented that some priests did not know the Ten Commandments or the Lord’s Prayer. There is great need for pastoral training.
|St. Martin Evangelical Lutheran Church|
St. Martin Evangelical Lutheran Church in Paity Town was founded in 1995 during the hottest part of the Liberian civil war. The congregation is named after Martin Luther and has a school associated with it. It is located in one of the most difficult locations due to the extreme poverty of the area.
|Children in Paity Town|
Bishop Amos Bolay reflected on the Liberian civil war as we visited the ELCL congregations. He noted that the war made people very serious about their faith. Yet even now people are forgetting that the Lord delivered them during the war. Bishop Bolay told us about the three months we spent in a rebel prison camp during the civil war. He said, “If you are fleeing from a war, do not go back to retrieve material things.”
|Foundation for Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zumah Town|
The drums at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church were square and from the Grebo Tribe.
Walking to Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, we passed some African Hunting Dogs.
|African Hunting Dogs|
Bishop Bolay explained that some adults and older people do not want to become Christians because they do not want to give up their traditions. This is why Jesus spoke about the faith of children.
|Sophie attends Grace Lutheran Church|
Our next stop was to Banjor in Lower Virginia where Holy Ghost Evangelical Lutheran Church resides.
|Holy Ghost Evangelical Lutheran Church|
A mosque sits behind Holy Ghost Evangelical Lutheran Church.
|The Mosque is the White and Green Building|
It is very difficult for muslims to convert to Christianity. When a muslim converts away from Islam, he is considered dead to the family. To convert to Christianity means to lose your family.
|Emmanuel Temple Evangelical Lutheran Church|
Emmanuel Temple Evangelical Lutheran Church is located in Chocolate City, named not after the coco bean, but after the color of the soil that looks like chocolate. Emmanuel Temple was founded in 1996. Note the green LCMS logo cross.
|Readings for the Circumcision of Jesus|
At Emmanuel Temple Lutheran Church the readings for the Circumcision of Jesus (1 January 2012) were written on a chalk board next to the altar.
|Outside of St. Luke Evangelical Lutheran Church|
St. Luke Evangelical Lutheran Church was founded in 1995 and is located in Chicken Soup Factory, Gardensville.
|Field Behind Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church|
There are two congregations in Coco Cola Factory. One is Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church and the other is Upper Room Evangelical Lutheran Church.
|Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church|
Pastor Dennis Mbombo stands in front of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Coco Cola Factory. The area is known as Coco Cola Factory because of the bottling plant nearby.
|Coco Cola Factory|
In the villages, it was very common to see African Hunting Dogs.
|St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church|
St. Paul’s also has a high school that has over 1,000 students.
|St Paul High School in Red Light|
The visitation of ELCL congregations was invaluable in better understanding this Lutheran church body in Liberia. In some cases, the pastor and church leadership waited for us all day until we arrived to meet them. It took us about 10 or 11 hours to drive around and see each one of these congregations, often times only spending a few minutes there. When the four separate church bodies decided to unify in 2009, about 100 congregations left because they wanted to remain Pentecostal. The congregations that stayed to form the ELCL have made an intention decision to be Lutheran and are working to improve. We all found the visitation to the congregations instructive, inspiring, and encouraging. The Lord will have a church for himself where he desires.
|Dr. Joel Lehenbauer stands outside Christ Assembly Evangelical Lutheran Church|
This morning, 1 January 2012, we worshiped at Christ Assembly Evangelical Lutheran Church. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia (ELCL) was the result of a merger between four groups. Some of these groups originally had roots in the Church of God or in the Assemblies of God. The remnants of this history is sometimes detectable in the name of congregations such as “Christ Assembly” Evangelical Lutheran Church. Yet having originated in a more Pentecostal background, the ELCL has a good understanding of its dangers and incompatibility with Lutheran theology. One of the ELCL pastors explained, “Pentecostalism teaches that God will do something for you on the basis of what you do for God. This is animism using Christian vocabulary. As Lutherans, we teach that God blesses us not because of what we do for him, but because he loves us and has sent his Son for us.” Nonetheless, the ELCL recognizes that elements from its Pentecostal background remain and require slow, patient teaching.
|Note the email address says LCMS2|
|A Choir that began dancing during one of the songs|
|Pastor Washington N. Gate Preaching|
The Law proscribed certain ceremonies – one of them was circumcision. Why was circumcision so important to the Jews? It was a sign that the Lord had saved the Jews, that the Lord had separated them from the Gentiles. It was a symbol of dedication and of salvation. It was a symbol of separation from idols. What was circumcision to the boy? It was the giving of his name. It was a putting of the boy into the Lord’s family. Once the boy was circumcised, there was no turning back; he forever was identified as belonging to the Lord. Circumcision was required by the Law. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law.
|The Celebration of Holy Communion|
After the sermon and before the Liturgy for Holy Communion, Bishop Amos Bolay offered instruction on the Lord’s Supper. He said something resembling the following:
|Dr. Lehenbauer, Bishop Bolay, Dr. Collver|
In the background between Bishop Bolay and Dr. Collver is the church’s water pump.