EECMY Terminates her Partnership with ELCA and CoS

EECMY Terminates her Partnership with ELCA and CoS

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
Addis Ababa

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Farewell from Kenya

The Uhuru Highway Lutheran Church in Nairobi, Kenya.

This morning before leaving for the United States, there was an opportunity to meet with the leadership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK).

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.

Rev. John Halahke, General Secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK) sits in his office.

Archbishop Obare presenting and signing a copy of Ibada Takatifu (Divine Service).

Those who assisted in the Kenyan Hymnal Project.

The trip to Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, and Kenya have been incredibly to better understand the state of Lutheranism in Africa.

Bon voyage.

- Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations.

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Location:University Way,Nairobi,Kenya

Dedication of Kenyan Hymnal “Ibada Takatifu”

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.

Rev. John Halahke, General Secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya (ELCK) stands with Deaconess Sandra Rhein, the coordinating editor of the Kenya Hymnal Project.

Procession for the hymnal dedication with Archbishop Walter Obare the last member of the procession.

People standing for the entry of the procession at the hymnal dedication.

The Archbishop and other Bishops conduct the dedication liturgy.

The bulletin for the hymnal dedication.

Pastor Thomas Aadland, professor Matango Lutheran Theological Conference, preached the dedication for the hymnal.

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.”

Photo at the press conference and television interview after the service.

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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Location:University Way,Nairobi,Kenya

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.
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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.

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