Watch your mailboxes for the March 2013 issue of The Lutheran Witness, which takes a look at Christian denominations and what they believe. In the cover story, “Free in Christ,” the Rev. Aaron Moldenhauer focuses on the freedom of living in and by God’s Word alone and what can happen to church bodies who replace that Word with their own. You’ll also find a “How Are We Different?” reference chart that outlines the distinctions between several denominations’ historic statements of faith, explaining why they believe what they believe.
The Rev. James Chinery writes in “Finding Home” why his study of God’s Word compelled him to join The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS). “The Life of the Baptized” follows the journey of eastern Iowa Christians seeking a faithful church, finding it in the LCMS and planting a church because of it. You’ll also learn more about developing global news regarding the Ethiopian Lutheran Church Mekane Yesus and why doctrinal issues have caused one of the largest Lutheran church bodies to part ways with the ELCA.
The Rev. Jeff Hemmer, in “Competing Confessions,” outlines specific ways the Church can be of help to those families whose parents don’t worship in the same denomination. And in “Impossible to Contradict,” the Rev. David Ramirez explains the difference in churches that believe the Bible contains God’s Word and churches that believe the Bible is God’s Word.
The youth of the Church will also find helpful information in this issue’s youth-friendly #believeboldly column called “Can’t We All Just Get Along?” Deaconess Jeni Miller explains that, “The whole point of doctrine is to unify so that we all have a common teaching we all stand behind. No pretending. Whatever proclaims Christ—whatever proclaims the Gospel—that’s what LCMS Lutherans are about.”
“We have an answer for our beliefs. They are not just our opinions,” writes the Rev. Aaron Moldenhauer. “They are the truths revealed in God’s Word. They point us to Him who is the truth and the life, to Jesus.”
Go to www.cph.org/witness to order the magazine in paper or digital formats, and go to www.facebook/thelutheranwitness to read exclusive online content, discuss articles with other readers and keep up-to-date on the work of the LCMS.
Hymnal Workshops in Kenya
By Dr. Timothy Quill
Following the dedication on the new hymnals, Rev. Randy Golter (Executive Director of the Office of International Mission, Dr. Timothy Quill (Director of Theological Education), Deaconess/Church Musician Sandra Rhein traveled to the Matongo in Western Kenya to visit the ELCK’s seminary. The trip included an introductory hymnbook workshop on the conduct and music of the liturgy and hymnody for the seminarians, local pastors and church musicians. The workshop was led by Rev. Tom Omolo (Chairman of the new Hymnbook Commission), Rev. Isaiah Obare (Commission member) and Deaconess Rhein. The team then made the day long drive north into the mountainous Pokot region to conduct the workshop for local pastors and musicians. The workshop took place on the campus of Kapenguria Bible Center which trains evangelists, deaconesses and serves as a “prep school” for the Seminary in Matongo. With the recent accreditation of the Matongo Seminary, it is now able to grant qualified graduates a BTh degree. The ELCK is studying the possibility of expanding the Kapenguria program to include pastoral training. Rev. Obare and Deaconess Rhein then conducted workshops in Mombasa and Nairobi.
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The 19th General Assembly of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, held from January 27 to February 2, 2013, passed several important resolutions related to the life and ministry of the Church including election of leaders, formation of a Judiciary Commission, establishment of new synods and above all, fellowshipping in prayer and worship. Among the agenda items that received endorsement of the General Assembly were issues related to marriage and human sexuality – topics that extensively called the attention of the Church’s policy-making bodies at different level, over the past several years.
It is recalled, earlierlier in 2006, two of the major partners of the EECMY, namely the Church of Sweden and later, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, passed decisions that favor Homosexual practices and blessing of same sex marriage. The EECMY noted this as a surprise and immediately reacted against and earnestly requested for reconsideration of their decisions. To the ,contrary, these two Churches, going further, resolved to legalize same sex marriage and calling of gay persons into ordained ministry. As a result of this, the EECMY was compelled to engage with an intentional theological reflection and deeper search of Scripture as well as legal and cultural perspectives of the Ethiopian Context. The outcome of this study was critically reviewed and taken as the basis forward the decisions of the 6th Church Council — which resulted in the writing of Pastoral Call to the two Churches to reverse their decisions, lest the EECMY would be forced to terminate her relationship, with prior notification of one year as per the Standard Partnership agreement. Sadly, the repeated endeavors of the EECMY on this line, failed to obtain the expected positive response from the two Churches.
Subsequently, the Council of the Church at its 8th regular session held in July 2012, was obligated to implement the decision of the 6th Council, i.e. termination of the partnership relations and setting of exit strategy to realize the decision. Having heard and thoroughly reviewed the report presented on the actions so far taken on this Issue, the 19th Generaleral Assembly of the Church unanimously endorsed the Resolution passed by the 8th Council.
Being cognizant of the fruitful and long-standing relationships with the ELCA and the CoS,the EECMY expresses her very deep and sincere appreciation of their historic contributions in God’s Mission. We will continue to pray that, one day, the relationships will be restored.
The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY)
February 11, 2013
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The discussion was primarily one of gratitude to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod for providing assistance and expertise to complete Ibada Takatifu (Divine Service). It also was mentioned how much the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT) provided in terms of hymnody and translation expertise, as well as copyright permissions.
Another area of the discussion focused on the necessity of theological education so that in the future the ELCK would have its own expertise to undertake such projects in the future.
The trip to Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, and Kenya have been incredibly to better understand the state of Lutheranism in Africa.
- Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations.
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The newly published hymnal “Ibada Takatifu” for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya (ELCK). The dedication for Ibada Takatifu (Divine Service) was held at the Uhuru Highway Lutheran Church in downtown Nairobi.
The hymnal is, in some ways, modeled after the Lutheran Service Book (LSB) in style. The hymnal contains a fresh translation of Luther’s Small Catechism in Swahili. At least for the ELCK, the version of the Small Catechism found in the hymnal will become the new standard for Kenya.
After the sermon, the congregation sang, “Mungu Wetu Ndiye Boma” (“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”). You can listen to it by clicking here.
Rev. Ambele Mwaipopo, Director of Mission & Evangelism for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT), congratulated the Evangelical Lutheran Church Kenya (ELCK) on their new hymnal, especially in light of false rumors that some started to hinder the project. The Tanzanian church provided a significant amount of assistance in the area of translation, copyright permissions, and other technical assistance.
Archbishop Obare read from a portion of the hymnal forward: “We thank God for enabling the ELCK to have Ibada Takatifu at such a crucial time. With this hymnal The Lord has given us a lasting treasure that will foster unity and spiritual and spiritual growth that will be carried from generation to generation! Both the ELCK Hymnal Commission and liturgical experts at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA, who labored tirelessly to complete this project deserve great thanks — their effort will be felt in all corners of our church for generations to come. We thank God for all those who contributed financial offerings to this undertaking: their work is going to bring great blessing to God’s people. Finally, we pray that our Lord would abundantly bless bishops, pastors, evangelists, teachers, deaconesses, and church musicians who helped bring this work to fruition. We pray God’s blessing upon those who use Ibada Takatifu in the coming years to lead His people in the divine and heavenly worship of our living God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, whose grace upon grace is always more than we desire or deserve.”
Congratulations to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya’s (ELCK) on their new hymnal. To God be the glory.
– Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations.
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