Archive for February, 2013

ILC Letter to EECMY

Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt, Chairman
P.O. Box 690407 • 30613 Hannover GERMANY
Telephone: 49-511-55-7808 • FAX: 49-511-55-1588

Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, III, Executive Secretary
1333 S. Kirkwood Road • St. Louis, MO USA 63122
Telephone: 314-996-1430 • FAX: 314-996-1119
E-MAIL: albert.collver@lcms.org15 February 2013

Dear President Idosa and the members of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY):

To the church of God in Ethiopia, Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

We, the members of the International Lutheran Council and the attendees of the African Lutheran Theological Conference held in Accra, Ghana, on 12 – 15 February 2013, heard the report of the EECMY to sever fellowship with both the Church of Sweden and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) over the issue of same-sex marriage and the ordination of practicing homosexuals into the pastoral ministry.

We want to commend and thank you for taking a stand on the Word of God. In fact, we praise the Lord that he has brought this good work to fruition in the life of your church. Your conscience-bound view that the Scripture Alone is the only source of authority in deciding this matter is the view shared by the members of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). We pray that the courage you displayed in standing upon the Word of God will spread to other churches in Africa as they struggle on how to approach historic partners who have departed from the Word of God.

You and your church will remain in our prayers.

In Christ Jesus,

Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt

Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, III, Executive Secretary

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE─2013-2015: Africa: Christian Ekong; Asia: James Cerdeñola; Europe: Jon Ehlers;
Latin America: Egon Kopereck; North America: Robert Bugbee (Vice Chairman); Secretary: Gijsbertus van Hattem

Participants of the African Lutheran Theological Conference Co-Signers:

– The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Guinea Conokry, President Mamadoune Félíx
– The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Burkina Faso
– Lutheran Communities Church of Congo, Rev. Dr. Dongo Lussambu
– Antananarivo Synod of the Malagasy Lutheran Church, Rev. Dr. David Rakotonirina, Bishop
– The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia, President Amos Bolay
– The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Congo, President Joseph Mavongou
– The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ivory Coast, President Tade Désiré
– Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church Sierra Leone, President Alex Lansana
– Lutheran Church Mission in Uganda, President Charles Bameka
– Lutheran Church of Togo
– Lutheran Church of East Africa, Bishop-elect Jesse Angowi

International Lutheran Council Members (

– Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina (Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Argentina)
– Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium (Evangelisch-Lutherse Kerk in België)
– Christian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bolivia (Iglesia Cristiana Evangélica Luterana de Bolivia)
– Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (Igreja Evangélica Luterana do Brasil)
– Lutheran Church—Canada
– Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Republic of Chile (Iglesia Evangélica Luterana de la República de Chile)
– Lutheran Church—Hong Kong Synod (香港路德會)
– China Evangelical Lutheran Church (中華福音道路德會)
– Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Denmark (Den evangelisk-lutherske Frikirke i Danmark)
– Evangelical Lutheran Church—Synod of France and Belgium (Église Évangélique – – Luthérienne – Synode de France et de Belgique)
– Independent Evangelical—Lutheran Church (Selbständige Evangelisch – Lutherische Kirche)
– Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana
– Lutheran Church of Guatemala (Consejo Luterano Iglesia Luterana en Guatemala)
– Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti (Eglise Evangelique Lutherienne D’Haiti)
– India Evangelical Lutheran Church
– Japan Lutheran Church (日本ルーテル教団)
– Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya
– Lutheran Church in Korea (기독교한국루터회)
– Lutheran Synod of Mexico (Sinodo Luterano de Mexico)
– Lutheran Church of Nigeria
– Gutnius Lutheran Church
– Evangelical Lutheran Church of Paraguay (Iglesia Evangélica Luterana del Paraguay)
– Lutheran Church in the Philippines
– Evangelical Lutheran Church of Portugal
– Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia (Евангелическая-лютеранская Церковь ИНГРИИ)
– Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa
– Lutheran Church in Southern Africa
– Lanka Lutheran Church
– Evangelical Lutheran Church of England
– Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
– American Association of Lutheran Churches
– Lutheran Church of Venezuela (Iglesia Luterana de Venezuela)
– Lutheran Church of Australia
– Evangelical Lutheran Church in Peru (LWF recognized congregation)

– Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, Director of Church Relations, from Accra, Ghana.
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Ethiopian Lutheran church breaks fellowship with ELCA

The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod – Ethiopian Lutheran church breaks fellowship with ELCA

By Adriane Dorr

One of the largest Lutheran church bodies in the world, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), announced Feb. 5 that it had broken fellowship with “those churches who have openly accepted same-sex marriage,” namely, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Church of Sweden.

With more than 6 million members, the EECMY recognized that the “challenges and changes that we encounter in our contexts are forcing us to make decisions which are consistent with our belief about God and our biblical, theological and ethical understandings,” explained the Rev. Dr. Wakseyoum Idosa, president of the EECMY.

At the request of the EECMY, LCMS church leaders traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to take part in the EECMY’s Committee of Mutual Christian Responsibility (CMCR). During this Feb. 4-6 meeting, ELCA officials asked for clarification regarding the EECMY’s decision on human sexuality. Director of Church Relations Dr. Albert B. Collver III; the Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, executive director of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations; and Dr. Michael Rodewald, regional director for Africa, took part on behalf of the LCMS.

Watching the church bodies part ways was “deeply sobering,” said Lehenbauer. “This was clearly a sad and painful moment in this history of the relationship between these two churches. But the EECMY acted in accordance with their long-held and patiently expressed biblical conviction on this issue, rooted in their conscience-bound view that Scripture alone is and must be our only authority for deciding such matters — matters that go to the heart of the Gospel itself.”

“The ELCA is very saddened by this decision,” said the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director for ELCA Global Mission, in a press release issued by the ELCA. “The ELCA and its predecessor church bodies have been walking with the people of Ethiopia for more than 50 years, and our sister church, the Church of Sweden, for more than 150 years. In this journey, we have learned from one another, we have deepened and extended the bonds of fellowship and partnership in the Gospel.”

Undergoing a realignment

“At this moment in history, world Lutheranism, particularly in Africa, is undergoing a realignment,” Collver noted. “African Lutheran churches, full of gratitude for receiving the Gospel from their partners, are confronted with the reality that some of their partners have departed from that faith once delivered to them.”

In this instance, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted in 2009 to allow gay and lesbian pastors to serve in the ministry. But after its own General Assembly meeting in 2010, the EECMY sent a letter to Bishop Mark Hanson of the ELCA, rejecting “the decision of the ELCA that allows gays and lesbians to become clergy and engage in the church’s ministry.” The letter encouraged the ELCA to repent and return to the “eternal holy and inspired Word of God,” noting the EECMY’s “serious concern,” “deep sadness” and “dismay” over the position taken by the ELCA on human sexuality.

“The fundamental position of the EECMY on any ethical issue including homosexual practice rests on her belief in the eternal truth of teaching of the Holy Scripture and not on human decision,” the EECMY’s letter stated. But in July 2012, after years of waiting for a response from the ELCA and receiving none, the EECMY’s General Assembly finally voted, and fellowship between the churches was over.

Official minutes from the 2012 meeting make clear that EECMY members will no longer “receive Holy Communion from the leadership and pastors of the [ELCA and the Church of Sweden]” and, in turn, that “the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus will not distribute communion to these churches.”

“We appreciate the strong stand taken by African Lutheran Christians toward a biblical understanding of those social issues that challenge us together as Christians,” Rodewald noted. “Their courage in taking such a stand is encouraging to us in a time when some Lutheran church bodies are looking to other means than Scripture for guidance.” “These African Lutheran churches remaining faithful to the Holy Scriptures also see it as their duty to call Western churches to repentance for departing from the historic Christian faith,” added Collver.

“These churches will seek partners in Africa and around the world who share the same convictions as they do about the Holy Scriptures. The EECMY is an encouragement to churches around the world for being a faithful witness. We as the LCMS need to lift the EECMY up in prayer, so that we can be like Aaron holding up Moses’ hands.”

LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison acknowledged the weightiness of the situation, saying, “The LCMS is sensitive to the difficulty the EECMY faced in making a decision of this magnitude, and we appreciate the bold and courageous action of EECMY General Assembly. Our church stands ready to talk with the EECMY if or when they are ready, and we invite them for further discussions on how we can together serve the Lord and His people.”

Adriane Dorr is managing editor of The Lutheran Witness.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

African Theological Conference in Accra Ghana

February 12-15, 2013, an African Lutheran Theological Conference will be jointly sponsored by the Church Relations Office of President of the LCMS, the LCMS Office of International Mission, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana and Luther Academy. We anticipate representation from English and French speaking Lutheran Churches from all across Africa.

Approximately 60 people from 15 countries attended the conference, including Nigeria, Togo, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Benin, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, and the United States.

The purpose of the conference is to deepen the understanding of confessional Lutheran doctrine and practice and to strengthen relationships between churches that are committed to confessional Lutheranism. Influences from liberal European theology, American “Evangelicalism-Pentecostalism” and indigenous movements continue to challenge the “emerging” Lutheran churches who are struggling to establish and maintain authentic Lutheranism.

The theme of the conference will be “The Third Article of the Creed: The Holy Spirit.” Under the general theme “Lutheranism in the 21 51 Century,” this year’s conference will address a variety of critical issues facing the Lutheran Church today.

Speakers and Topics

Rev. Dr. Joseph Ochola Omolo, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya, Bishop of Lake Diocese, and Principal of Matongo Seminary

Rev. Gordon Gyampo-Kumi, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ghana: “Challenges facing Lutheran Worship in Africa”

Rev. Dr. Lawrence Rast, President of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA: “Sacramental Tensions in Lutheran History”

Bishop Paul Kofi Fynn of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana graciously hosted the conference at Wisconsin International University in Accra, Ghana.

The Wisconsin International University is among the highest rated private universities in Ghana. Currently, the university has about 3,000 students and has a capacity of about 8,000 students. The University has served as a good host for the conference.

Dr. Collver presented on recent events in Ethiopia and how some of the bishops in Tanzania reacted to the news, followed by an open forum on how the International Lutheran Conference (ILC) could make an impact in Africa.

The Program Committee consisted of the Rev. Dr. Albert Collver Ill, Director of Church Relations–Assistant to the President LCMS and Executive Secretary of the International Lutheran Conference (ILC); Rev. Dr. Paul Kofi Fynn, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana; Dr. Timothy C. J. Quill, Director of Theological Education; Rev. Gordon Kumi, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana; Rev. Daniel McMiller, Dir. of Luther Academy.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Tanzania Trip Segment

We arrived in Mwanza, Tanzania, on 9 February 2013. Mwanza is on Lake Victoria and the second largest city in Tanzania. It is also the headquarters of the East of Lake Victoria Diocese (ELVD) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT). The Mid-South District of the LCMS had a partnership with the ELVD for more than a decade. In fact, Bob Allen of the Mid-South District is a name revered in the ELVD for his tireless work.

The East of Lake Victoria Diocese (ELVD) has a unique history in the Evangelical Luther Church of Tanzania (ELCT). Unlike the other dioceses which were a product of the various European mission societies, beginning with the Leipzig Mission Society in the 1840s near Mount Kilimanjaro, the ELVD was created by the Tanzania church for the purpose of mission. Only 15% of the population in the region are Christians and most of the people hold to traditional religion.

The tilapia fish in the logo of the ELVD represents not the fish in Lake Victoria, but the deep hard to reach mission areas in Tanzania. This is one of the fastest growing areas in Tanzania in terms of mission outreach.

We visited the ELVD cathedral and headquarters.

The ELVD Cathedral holds about 2000 people with an average attendance of 900 people per service (1800 per Sunday).

The service and liturgy on Sunday is very similar to a Missouri Synod service from Lutheran Service Book (LSB). Both the ELCT and the LCMS drew their liturgy from the same source — the Leipzig Agenda. The German missionaries brought the Leipzig Agenda to Tanzania and CFW Walther brought the Leipzig Agenda to America. The liturgy is nearly identical and many of the hymns are the same.

Like the Missouri Synod, the ELCT has a mixture of historic and more contemporary or modern music. In the ELCT, the liturgy is used strictly and every congregation uses the same order, even as songs both ancient and modern are interspersed. This seems like a good model that perhaps the LCMS could learn from. (FYI: Worship began at 7 am and lasted three hours. The service starts early so people can go to work if needed. There also were three offerings which roughly corresponded to Witness, Mercy, Life Together — this is simply what the church does.)

Bishop Andrew Gulle with LCMS Pastor and Missionary Shauen Trump in Mwanza, Tanzania,waiting for the ferry across Lake Victoria. Pastor Trump is the only Swahili speaking LCMS missionary.

We took the ferry to cross Lake Victoria so we could reach the newly created diocese — the South East if Lake Victoria Diocese (SELVD). Bishop Elect Emmanuel Makala, a doctoral student at the Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne and supported by the LCMS Mid-South District, will be installed on 5 May 2013 as Bishop. Bishop Elect Makala was the assistant to Bishop Gulle before being elected to serve as Bishop.

The cathedral of the SELVD is being constructed now with the hope that it will be finished in time for the installation of Bishop Makala.

Children with the ELCT Hymnal memorizing the Small Catechism on Saturday Confirmation Class. When the children are admitted to Confirmation Class, the children’s parents are invited to the front of the church to pledge that their child will learn the Small Catechism. The ELCT hymnal has a rite for the beginning of catechism class that is used for this service. We had the opportunity to witness this on Sunday morning.

The future headquarters of the SELVD. Not yet completed but hopefully soon.

Dr. Mike Rodewald, Bishop Andrew Gulle, Dr. Albert Collver, and Pastor Shauen Trump at the site of the Old Shinyanga Church, planted by Evangelist Andrew Gulle 20 years ago.

Pastor Shauen Trump receiving a gift at the site of the SELVD Cathedral.

Bishop Gulle indicated that the greatest assistance the LCMS can be is to walk along side of the Tanzania church and assist with theological education. He also indicated that the Tanzanian Church is carefully watching the decision made by the Evangelical Ethiopian Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) to break fellowship with the ELCA and the Church of Sweden over the issue of same sex marriage and ordination. In 2010, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT) issued the Dedoma Statement which affirms the Biblical teaching on marriage and commits that their church will affirm the Holy Scriptures rather than sociological doctrine from America and Europe.

Rainbow over Yerusalemu Lutheran Church on Transfiguration Sunday.

The future of Lutheranism may reside in Africa rather than either Europe or America. In Africa today, there are more than 20 million Lutherans (that is, people who attend church nearly every Sunday — unlike Europe or America). The African Lutheran Churches are showing themselves willing to resist anti-Scriptural ideas imposed upon them by Europe and America. Of course, the African Lutheran Churches have many challenges as well. The day could come when Africa sends missionaries to pagan Europe and America. There would be a certain irony in this as Africa was one of the first places to adopt the Christian faith — think of the great theologians Athanasius and Augustin, not to mention the Ethiopian Eunuch in the book of Acts who took the Christian faith to Ethiopia.

… On way to Accra Ghana, Africa, for an African Theological Conference sponsored by the LCMS and the Luther Academy.

— Posted the Monday after Transfiguration by Rev. Dr.
Albert Collver in flight over central Africa.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

President Harrison’s Video on the Newtown, Conn., Statement of Unity and Pastoral Letters

LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison summarizes the events following the Newton, Conn., tragedy that involved Christ Lutheran Church, the LCMS congregation in Newtown, and her pastor, the Rev. Robert Morris. Harrison offers his personal apology for the way the matter was handled, which brought negative national media attention to the congregation and pastor of Christ Lutheran Church as well as to The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. The video mentions several documents.

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