Approximately 3,500 pastors of the Mekane Yesus church in Ethiopia gathered on April 15-17 for a pastors conference. They met on the campus of Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS) in Addis Ababa. The conference theme was “Our Vocation: Devotion to Prayer, Ministry of the Word and Leadership.”
Dr. Wakseyoum, President of the 7.2 million member Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, interprets Dr. Berhanu’s presentation on Ephesians 4 for Dr. Collver.
Dr. Berhanu’s presentation focuses on Ephesians 4:1, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” Dr. Berhanu desired to encourage pastors in their vocation and calling. He told the pastors that they were first called by the Lord in their baptism. Every Christian has this calling. The Christian goes to church and hears God’s Word and then goes out into the World and shares Christ with people. Then Dr. Berhanu spoke about how St. Paul and Jeremiah were called directly by God. Jesus himself appeared to St. Paul and called him to be an Apostle. Dr. Berhanu said to the pastors you were called by Jesus too. Jesus called you to be pastors through the church. Then he asked them, “Are you certain of your call?” The group of pastors said, “Amen.” Dr. Berhanu said, “You are certain of your call because the Lord called you through the Church.” His presentation was both well received and inspirational.
The conference also had presentations on Lutheran identity. The EECMY in recent years has been interested in the topic of Lutheran identity, in particular how to preserve identity in the face of rapid growth and with a shortage of trained pastors. Over the next few years the EECMY would like to train approximately another 8,000 to 10,000 pastors.
The LCMS delegation observed a portion of the EECMY pastors’ conference from the top of the dinning hall, whose construction was assisted by the LCMS. Pictured (left to right): Rev. Shauen Trump, LCMS Area Director of East Africa; Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations / Regional Operations; Rev. Eric Stinnett, LCMS Instructor at MYS; Rev. Mark Rabe, LCMS Instructor at MYS.
A highlight of the pastors’ conference was the presentation of the Book of Concord in Amharic by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation. Rev. Dr. Robert Rahn and Rev. Matthew Heise presented them to Dr. Wakseyoum of the EECMY.
All 3,500 pastors received a copy of the Book of Concord in Amharic. Prior to this event, there were approximately 900 copies of the Book of Concord in Ethiopia. Now every pastor has a copy.
The pastors sitting under the tent looking at the Book of Concord.
The Book of Concord will be of great benefit for the EECMY as it seeks to enhance its Lutheran identity. The pastors’ conference was deemed a success.
— Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver
14 April 2015
Today, the LCMS group — Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations / Regional Operations; Rev. Juan Gonzalez, Board for International Mission member; Rev. Mark Rabe, Missionary to East Africa / professor at MYS; Rev. Shauen Trump, Area Director for East Africa — along with people from the EECMY left Addis Ababa for Fiche to see a EECMY mission start and its context with a nearby orthodox monastery.
Pictured (left to right): Rev. Mark Rabe, professor to MYS; Rev. Shauen Trump, Area Director of East Africa; Rev. Juan Gonzalez, Member of the Board for International Mission; in car from Addis Ababa to Fiche.
A road we traveled down near Fiche. At times the road became impassable for the Land Rover and we were forced to walk to our next destination. In this case, a mission start for the EECMY.
Visiting the site where the EECMY-CES is building a new congregation. Qes Abraham, President of the Central Ethiopian Synoc, explains that the new congregation will be done in the style of the “Mother Congregation” in Addis Ababa built in 1920. Today the congregation worships about 400 people on a Sunday.
After seeing the EECMY congregation, we visited the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church monastery called “Debre Libanos.” This monastery was founded by the 13th century saint Tekle Haykmanot. He remains the only native Ethiopian saint popular both domestically as well as outside Ethiopia; he is the only Ethiopian saint celebrated officially in foreign churches such as Rome and Egypt.
Before we could enter, we were asked to observe the rules listed above before entering the church.
The current structure was built in 1961 under the orders of Emperor Halie Selassie. In 1937 the Italians massacred the inhabitants of Debre Libanos killing 297 monks and 23 laymen.
The inside of Debre Libanos has many stained glass windows.
A stained glass window inside Debre Libanos of Adam and Eve at the top and Noah at the bottom.
After visiting Debre Libanos, we went to the Portuguese Bridge built in the 16th century.
The Portuguese Bridge is near the Blue Nile Water Fall. We visited during the dry season. It covers the Jemma River Gorge.
Pictured: Rev. Mark Rabe, Theological Education at MYS; Rev. Shauen Trump, East Africa Area Director; Beza Tefera, Dean’s Office at MYS. Walking across the bridge for a view of the Ethiopian Rift Valley.
Dr. Collver sitting on the edge of the Ethiopian Rift Valley.
After the journey north, we headed back to Addis Ababa for the EECMY pastors’ conference which begins on Wednesday, 15 April 2015. That evening we picked up Rev. Eric Stinnett, who will serve as a theological educator at MYS along with Rev. Mark Rabe.
Pictured (left to right): Dr. Collver, Director of Church Relations / Regional Operations; Dr. Belay Olam, President of MYS; Rev. Juan Gonzalez, BIM member; Rev. Shauen Trump, East Africa Area Director; Rev. Eric Stinnett, Instructor MYS.
On 19-21 March 2015, The LCMS and EECMY held a conference titled, “Recovering Lutheran Identity in Worship and Music.” The conference originated from the work of the EECMY hymnal committee, which is seeking to develop a new hymnal for the EECMY. Deaconess Sandra Rhein from the Missouri Synod works with the EECMY’s hymnal committee. She has made several trips to Ethiopia for this work and most recently organized the worship conference. This post is based upon her reports.
The first action of this Hymnal Committee was to sponsor a three-day Worship and Music Conference. The goal of the conference was to teach the fundamentals of what theology and music mean for the faithful. It was held March 19—21 at Gudima Tumsa Training Center in Addis Ababa. Invitations were sent to 150 pastors and music leaders, as well as select seminary students. Over 160 attended, with a larger attendance each day as word spread about the wonderful Biblical teaching, and the participants were attentive and appreciative throughout three full days of lectures and presentations. At the conclusion of the conference, each attendance was presented a copy of the newly published book Catechisms, Creeds and Confessions (Click to see a previous blog post about this resource).
The conference was held over three days beginning with Matins and ending with Vespers. Presentations were given by Deaconess Sandra Rhein, Dr. Fred Baue, and Rev. Christopher Esget. Sectionals included topics such as “How to read music,” “Jesus, Help! The Kyrie as the basic prayer of the Christian,” “The connection between doctrine and worship.”
The conference presenters pictured left to right: Dr. Fred Baue, Mr. Girum Fantaye, Deaconess Sandra Rhein, and Rev. Christopher Esget. Conference presenters were Dr. Fred Baue (retired), Rev. Christopher Esget (Immanuel, Alexandria, VA), and Deaconess Sandra Rhein (Emmaus, South Bend, IN). Rev. Esget’s topic was “the gift of liturgy”. God chooses to come to us and give His gifts to us through the liturgy. Our liturgical life is faithful to Biblical teachings and also distinctly Lutheran. Dr. Baue spoke on the meaning of “Lutheran identity” and how the Book of Concord is necessary for our confession. Dr. Baue has also been experimenting with a musical setting for Matins and Vespers, using Ethiopian pentatonic scales. These settings were used to open and close each day of the conference. Deaconess Rhein taught the music of Matins and Vespers to the participants, along with an introducing them to music notation and the practice of chanting.
In the video above, Deaconess Sandra Rhein teaches how to sing the opening versicles.
Although the lectures were conducted in English, the ultimate goal is to issue a revision of the liturgy in Amharic. The first edition of the liturgy in Amharic was completed by the the Swedish missionaries in the 1920s. The EECMY used this consistently until the communist government took over. The rapid growth of the EECMY along with the lack of printed resources has decreased the knowledge of the historic liturgy among many members. The EECMY asked the LCMS to assist them with a hymnal to help increase their Lutheran identity.
In addition to the hymnody the EECMY inherited from the Scandinavian Missionaries, they also have indigenous songs that developed out of the Ethiopian context and in some cases from the persecution the church faced. The song book pictured above was compiled by Scandinavian missionaries in the early 1970s. Some of these songs such as “What Kind of Love Is This?,” are known to the LCMS — See Lutheran Service Book 542. In LSB the hymn is known as “When I Behold Jesus Christ.”
Pictured above is a copy of “What Kind of Love Is This? by Almaz Belhu. The above photo may be the earliest printing of that hymn. Any revision of the EECMY hymnal will consider the historic hymns of the church, along with newer songs and hymns developed in the Ethiopian context.
It is an exciting time for world Lutheranism!
“Dr. Grimenstein’s A Lutheran Primer for Preaching is the first confessional Lutheran framework on preaching produced in more than a generation. Not since Richard Caemmerer has a Missouri Synod homiletician offered a theological and practical approach to Law and Gospel preaching that is both textual and Christological. Grimenstein covers the theological foundation of preaching and then offers a practical 5-page method for developing a sermon that brings out the Word of God for the Lord’s people in a meaningful way. The book originally was conceived as a primer for preaching to be used on the mission field, but its value expands beyond the mission field as a helpful tool for seminarians, new pastors, and experienced pastors who would like to hone their preaching skills.”
– Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations / Regional Operations and Assistant to the President
Note: This homily was preached by Pastor William Weedon, International Center Chaplain, on April 10, 2015, the Friday of the Week of the Resurrection of Our Lord. We bring it to you as a joyful proclamation of the fullness of the resurrection Gospel. + Herbert Mueller
Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Today we mark yet another step in the unfathomable love of God for the human race. It was not enough for Him to have created us in His image and place us into the paradise of plenty. It was not enough for Him, when we fell into sin, to promise us a Savior. It was not enough for Him, to give us the Law to teach us our need of His mercy. It was not enough for Him, to send us prophets who called us again and again to trust in Him and to turn from all that was death and vanity. It was not enough for Him even to send His Son into our flesh. It was not enough for Him to walk among us, a man among men, the man among all others who are really only failures at being men. It was not enough for Him to stand in the waters of the Jordan in solidarity with sinners. It was not enough for Him to reach out and touch and heal. It was not enough for Him to teach us the counsels of salvation. It was not enough for Him to offer up His life a ransom for us upon Gologotha’s stony slope. It was not enough for Him to share our graves and taste our death. It was not enough for Him.
He would love us even more. And so the joys of Easter. For make no mistake about what Easter celebrates. Not merely that a man was raised from the dead. THIS Man had raised others from the dead before — Jairus’ little girl, the widow of Nain’s son, Lazarus. But they were all brought back from death into life with still corruptible flesh. That is, they each finally grew sick and died yet again. I don’t imagine that any of them faced death in the same way as before — for they had encountered Him who was stronger than death. But their coming back to life was not like His.
This week we celebrate that human flesh, like unto our own, of a piece with us, has been raised from death in incorruption. He will never die again. He is forever beyond all that. As we like to sing: “Gone the nailing, gone the railing, gone the pleading, gone the cry, gone the sighing, gone the dying, what was loss lifted high.”
This is the news that the Angel brought to the Marys and Salome at the tomb: “You seek Jesus of Nazareth. He is not here. He is risen. Come, see the place where they laid Him, but go and tell His disciples and Peter that He is risen and goes before you into Galilee. There you will see Him just as He told you.”
As He told you. His words of promise never fail. You can count on them when everything else around you is shaking, when your world crumbles, when your heart breaks, when your body fails. He will not fail you. It wasn’t enough for Him to merely share our flesh and blood. Oh, no. He would have that flesh and blood glorified, raised in incorruption, shining with the light of deity, the very source of our eternal hope. And He will take that glorified flesh and blood and raise it to the right hand of the Father, bringing humanity to that place where God had intended humanity to live from the beginning.
And do you see what His incorruption means to you? He, who is forever beyond death, beyond sin, beyond the accusations of the law, beyond hell — He has joined you to Him. In your Baptism you went into that grave with Him and you came out with Him. Alive. One with Him. His life was given you there in the water to be your life — His INCORRUPTIBLE life. But with Him, that’s never enough. There’s always more.
And so He sends His servants out to proclaim His promises — promises that cannot fail, that are as sure and certain as His rising from that grave on this day in incorruption–incorruptible promises to make you partakers of His divine nature. This is how St. Peter put it: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” (2 Peter 1:3,4) The promises of the Incorruptible One impart to you incorruption and make you a sharer in His divine nature — so that all that He is by nature you become by grace. He, a child of God; You, a child of God; He, the Heir of the Father; You, the heir of the Father.
But with Him there is always more. It was not enough for Him to baptize you into His own indestructible life; not enough for Him to arrange for His promises to be spoken to you to impart to you incorruption. He goes further; He has more; His love knows no limit. He has a meal for you. He wants to put into you, into your corruptible, dying, sinful bodies His incorruptible, undying, sinless Body and Blood for your forgiveness and for you life. He wants to unite YOU to Himself; to strengthen the bonds of your faith; to comfort you; to hold and still you in all your anxieties and fears. He wants you to know that just as death was not the end of Him, so it will NEVER be the end of you. He wants you to rejoice that YOU have a life that is stronger than all the death in this world.
Old Job could go to his grave in the confidence that his Redeemer lived, and that on the other side of the corruption — yes, though his body be destroyed — yet he would live again in this flesh and his eyes and none other would behold God. And as he thought of it, his heart burned within him.
You see more than Job. For you have known the Redeemer for whom he hoped, and you know His triumph over death and the grave. You know that not a single word of His ever proves false.
So, beloved, since Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed, let us keep the feast. Away with the leavened bread of malice! Away with the leavened bread of evil! Let us welcome the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth: the sincerity that is God’s earnest promise and the truth that with our God and His love for us, nothing was good enough until He had made our nature incorruptible in His Son and united us to Him that we might live in Him forevermore. This is God’s sincerity. This is God’s truth. This is the Bread on which we feast — the incorruptible bread that is Christ our Passover Lamb to whom be glory with His Father and the Holy Spirit — the only and blessed Triune God who has loved us with a love unimaginable and deep.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!