On this most recent trip to Ethiopia, Rev. Mark Rabe and Rev. Eric Stinnett visited the Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS) for the first time. Both of them recently received calls from the Board for International Mission (BIM) to serve as theological educators in Ethiopia at the Mekane Yesus Seminary. Watch the brief interview with them.
Pictured (left to right): Rev. Mark Rabe, OIM Theological Educator to MYS and Rev. Eric Stinnett, OIM Theological Educator to MYS.
Pictured: Dr. Albert Collver and Bishop Wilson Noah Rule
19 April 2015
Bishop Wilson Noah Rule of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sudan / South Sudan travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to meet regarding a request to have fellowship with the Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod. Bishop Rule originally requested fellowship with the LCMS in 2013. The geo-political events and difficulties in obtaining visas for travel prevented a face to face visit until now.
The ELCS/SS is based out of Juba, South Sudan. The church body was established in 1993 in Juba. Due to geo-political instability, the church was relocated to Khartoum. At the beginning of the 21st Century, the LCMS assisted the ELCS/SS with church plants in the Nuba Mountains and a seminary was established in Khartoum. Once again, geo-political instabilities forced a relocation. The seminary moved to Yambio and began classes in 2008. Lutheran Heritage Foundation was greatly instrumental in assisting the ELCS/SS.
The ELCS/SS currently has over 150 congregations and nearly half that many pastors, as well as approximately 100 evangelists. The church holds that the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God and subscribes to the Book of Concord without reservation.
It was a great blessing that Bishop Wilson Noah Rule was able to come to Addis Ababa for a meeting. The next steps will involve meetings with members of the CTCR as fellowship discussions continue. Deo Volente, the two churches will be able to recognize fellowship. May God grant it.
The Lutheran Heritage Foundation was instrumental in bringing Bishop Wilson Noah Rule to Addis Ababa.
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!