8 February 2015

About 1 year ago, during President Harrison’s visit to Ethiopia, the idea to produce significant quantifies of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus’ (EECMY’s) confessional documents was born. Tsegahun Assefa, the Director of Children and Youth Ministry Department of the EECMY, explained how Lutheran identity, especially among the youth was a challenge. This led to a conversation about the confessional documents which the EECMY subscribes.
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According to the EECMY’s Church Constitution in Article II, the confessional basis is as follows:

The Church (EECMY) believes and professes that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and the New Testaments are the Holy Word of God and the only source and infallible norm of all Church doctrines and practice.

The Church adheres to the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, which were formulated by the early Fathers’ and accepted by ancient church.

The Church sees in the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, which was worded by the Church Reformers, as well as in Luther’s Catechisms, as a pure exposition of the Word of God.

Although it may seem strange to many people in the LCMS to subscribe to less than the entire Book of Concord, many churches around the world subscribe to the Ecumenical Creeds, the Augsburg Confession, and Luther’s Catechisms. As every other document in the Book of Concord is a further explanation of the Augsburg Confession and the Catechisms, there is no problem with not subscribing to the entire Book of Concord, provided that the other parts of the Book of Concord are not rejected. On the mission field, a challenge is that many churches that were started by European missionaries were never given the entire Book of Concord. It was only within the past decade that the EECMY had an Amharic translation of the entire Book of Concord, and that effort only provided 900 copies for the entire church. Another challenge for the church has been the lack of copies of these confessional documents. So the project was born to provide 30,000 copies of the EECMY’s confessional documents as an effort to increase awareness and knowledge of these books.
DSC_0230aPresident Wakseyoum and Dr. Albert Collver exchange Catechisms, Creeds and Confessions. The book will be formally presented to the Pastors of the EECMY by Lutheran Heritage Foundation in April 2015. In the meantime, the books are being or will soon be distributed to the synods of the EECMY so that people can begin to use them. When Dr. Wakseyoum say the book he said, “Very good. Thank you. This will be a help to our church in strengthening her Lutheran identity.”

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Last year after the LCMS delegation visit to Ethiopia in January / February 2014, discussions began with Dr. Matthew Heise, Executive Director of Lutheran Heritage Foundation (LHF). LHF was very eager to publish Catechisms, Creeds and Confessions. In the preliminary conversation, Rev. Heise explained LHF’s mission is to publish confessional works and he was happy to work with the LCMS to do so. In an email, Heise wrote, “LHF is committed to printing those materials that are most needed for Ethiopia, as well as the Book of Concord by the end of this year.” Catechisms, Creeds and Confessions was published on January 2015. (It is quite possible that I saw a copy of it before Rev. Heise.) The partnerships between the LCMS and her RSOs, like Lutheran Heritage Foundation,  and other entities is a great asset and a significant factor in having an impact on worldwide Lutheranism. We look forward to this continued partnership.

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