Archive for September, 2012

A Little Word from Beyond the Grave

The last Sunday in August, my brother, Pastor Tim Mueller of New Minden, IL, preached for the ordination of his son, Jacob, at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Emma, Missouri. Another brother, Pastor Bill Mueller of Fort Wayne, IN, was also there. As part of his sermon, Tim pulled out a slip of paper that our mother had sent him to give to Jacob, in part because Jacob and his grandfather (also a pastor, now sainted) had shared the same birthday, February 6. 

This was not just any slip of paper. It was the back side of a hospital menu sheet from July 1970. Our mother had carried this slip, encased in plastic, in her wallet for 42 years. Now she wanted Jacob, her grandson, the newly minted pastor, to have it. The only thing of any value on the slip was, in our father’s hand, a scripture reference – 1 Timothy 1:15. That was it. That was the precious thing she carried for 42 years.

Why? July 1970 was a terrible month. Dad was in intensive care with what they believed was some kind of bacterial infection of the heart. That particular day he appeared to be at death’s door. When he gave the slip to my mother, he couldn’t speak, but she knew that Dad meant it for the text of his funeral sermon. 

By God’s grace (and much to the amazement of his doctors) he recovered that time and God gave us 26 more years with him. When we did celebrate the life of Christ in his life at his funeral in 1996, 1 Timothy 1:15 was the text. But Mom still carried the slip for all these 42 years. And now she wanted Jacob to have it, because it was the text that typified my father’s ministry for more than 50 years. She was unable to come for the ordination, but she sent it with her prayers that it would be the same for Jacob. 

What does it say? “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). That’s the ministry – one sinner bringing to other sinners the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation in Jesus. May that be the center of every pastor’s service with God’s people, including, especially, mine!

 + Herbert Mueller
First Vice President, LCMS

Follow Up To The Ethiopian Highlands


The excursion into the Ethiopian Highlands was rather overwhelming in some ways. A night of sleep has provided an opportunity for some additional reflection before heading out West to Ambo.


Near the Ethiopian Orthodox monastery we stopped along the side of the road to pick up a couple of marble crosses.


I should have mentioned regarding the Blue Nile River that some scholars believe it to be the river Gihon mentioned in Genesis 2 as the river that circled the land of Cush (Ethiopia) and fed into the Garden of Eden.


When we visited Fiche, where the coffee ceremony was held… A few more things ought to be mentioned. Over 200 children attend programs at the EECMY’s center. The EECMY approaches people in a wholistic way — body and soul, not unlike the LCMS’ Witness, Mercy, and Life Together that seeks to do works of mercy in close proximity to the Gospel. The mission statement for the Fiche project is “We work along with the Church Centering Christ to fully invest our efforts in releasing project children from Spiritual, cognitive, social, and physical bondages and create fulfilled, self reliant, and responsible Christian adults!!” I mention this because the young woman who prepared the coffee ceremony for us was once like one of the children pictured above. She attended the Fiche center as a child, learned some life skills, attended university, and now works for the church with the very children she once was.


Although there is much to admire about the EECMY, it should be noted that the LCMS and the EECMY are not in altar and pulpit fellowship. There are differences between our churches. At the same time, there are a number of commonalities including the high regard for the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God. The current agreement between the EECMY and the LCMS focuses on cooperation in external matters and in the exchange of information. This visit gives us the opportunity to become better aquatinted with one another and to see where more commonalities (as well as potential differences) exist.

Off to Ambo…

– Posted on 5 September 2012 by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Dejazmach Belay Zeleke St,,Ethiopia

Ethiopian Highlands and EECMY Congregations

Today, we traveled from Addis Ababa through the Ethiopian Highlands to the Blue Nile River and back to visit EECMY congregations from the Central Ethiopian Synod (CES) located in the highlands. The entire trip took more than twelve hours. So much was seen that it is difficult to describe it in a meaningful way but will try below.


We left Addis Ababa early in the morning and drove out of the city into the Ethiopian Highlands. The Ethiopian Highlands is sometimes called the “Roof of Africa.” The pictures above were taken at an elevation between 9,000 and 11,000 feet. The air was thinner and to those of us not used to it, we found it more difficult to breath. Believe it or not some people were training to run. Plus the ordinary people who live there were carrying sacks of produce, charcoal, et al. up and down the mountain.


As we approached the pass to the Blue Nile River, signs warning of rock slides greeted us along with baboons who walked along side the road, and mist from the water falls.


This is a water fall that feeds the Blue Nile River, located approximately 10,000 feet in the highlands.


After a challenging drive on mountain roads we reached the Blue Nile River. The Blue Nile merges into the White Nile forming the Nile River.


In the Ethiopian Highlands we visited several EECMY congregations. At one of the congregations, we were served traditional Ethiopian coffee. The photo above shows green coffee beans being roasted dark brown the traditional way and finally served to us in cups.


We visited some EECMY congregations under construction in the highlands. When we arrived children from the village came to greet us. The Ethiopian Highlands are primarily Ethiopian Orthodox. There are many monasteries in the area where pilgrims come for healing. The sights reminded me very much what I have read about how Martin Luther found the situation at the time of the Reformation.


Pictured above is an Ethiopian Orthodox monastery in the highlands. In the top picture, the monastery can be seen with a water fall to its right. This water fall is considered holy and is believed by pilgrims to be a source of healing. In fact, many Ethiopian Orthodox churches and monasteries are built next to natural springs or water falls. In the lower picture, pilgrims can be seen streaming to and from the monastery. Many of these people are sick or crippled.


The Ethiopian Orthodox monastery and some of the EECMY congregations are located above the rift valley, specifically, the Zega Wedem River Valley in Debrelibanos Area.


On our return, we stopped at a mission outpost in the Ethiopian Highlands. We presented an Amharic translation of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism to one of the EECMY evangelists. President Abraham presented with catechism with Dr. Collver. Nearby the church a boy plays with a bull whip and a young girl presents us with flowers picked from the plateau.

Today, we traveled several hundred kilometers North into the Ethiopian Highlands. We saw where the people of the highlands live and met many people in various villages. Tomorrow, we leave early in the morning to head West toward Ambo.

– Posted on 4 September 2012 by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Dejazmach Belay Zeleke St,,Ethiopia

EECMY And Saint George Cathedral Visit in Addis Ababa


Pictured above (in no particular order): Rev. Dr. Wakseyoum Idosa Negeri, President of the EECMY; Rev. Pereje Jemberu, Vice President of the EECMY; Rev. Dr. Berhanu Ofgaa, General Secretary of the EECMY; Tadelech Loha, women’s ministry; Girma Borishie, Admin and Finance Director of the EECMY; Rev. Abraham Mengesha, President of the Central Ethiopian Synod of the EECMY; Deed Jaldessa of the EECMY; Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations; Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, LCMS Exec Director of the CTCR; Dr. Michael Rodewald, LCMS Africa Regional Director.

Today, 3 September 2012, we visited the headquarters of The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The EECMY was founded in 1959 and presently has about 5.8 million members. The EECMY is generally regarded as one of the fastest growing churches in the world. In 2009, the LCMS signed a working agreement with the EECMY to see where we could cooperate. The purpose of our visit was to follow up on that agreement and to become more familiar with the people and congregations of the EECMY.


These leaders of the EECMY graciously agreed to meet us one day after the funeral of Prime Minister Zenawi. President Wakseyoum attended the Prime Minister’s funeral on Sunday. The entire country of Ethiopia has been mourning Prime Minister Zenawi’s death.


At the meeting the LCMS presented gifts to President Wakseyoum, including this red stole which was given as a special gift from President Harrison.


Martin Luther’s Small Catechism translated into Amharic also was presented, along with copies of the Witness, Mercy, Life Together Bible Study. WMLT was well received by the EECMY as it is compatible with the EECMY’s approach to wholistic ministry, chiefly that human care and social work needs to be done with Word and Sacrament ministry.

For the rest of the week, we will be visiting various synods (districts) and congregations of the EECMY.


After our meeting we had some famous Ethiopian Coffee and then headed to Saint George Orthodox Church.


Saint George Ethiopian Orthodox Church is an octagonal church built in 1896. It is a relatively small church that holds about 200 people. Shoes must be removed before entering the church, and there are separate gates / doors for men and women to enter. People with certain ritual uncleanness are not able to enter the church but must remain outside the gates until purified. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has existed since Philip the Evangelist explained the Old Testament prophecies from Isaiah to the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-40.


The church is named after Saint George.


Christ defeated Satan on the cross.


The final judgement.


The archdeacon of Saint George’s Cathedral gave us a tour. He was very interested in comparing the beliefs of the Orthodox church with the Lutheran “priests.”


The archdeacon demonstrated the chanting of the liturgy in Ge’ez, an ancient South Semitic language that resembles Hebrew and was the original language of Ethiopia.

He also demonstrated the use of the drums.


When the drums are played the chanting is faster. This form of chanting has existed since the 6th century AD.

Tomorrow we visit EECMY congregations outside of Addis Ababa.

Posted 3 September 2012 by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Airport Rd,Addis Ababa,Ethiopia

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