6 February 2015
“Our churches are falsely accused of abolishing the Mass. The Mass is held among us and celebrated with the highest reverence, ” comes from the Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV, said Dr. Fred Baue to his class on the Lutheran Confessions. “What is the mass?,” asked Dr. Baue, “The word is associated with the Roman Catholic church, but it simply means the chief Sunday service where the Lord’s Supper is celebrated.” Lutherans were falsely accused of abolishing the chief worship service in Martin Luther’s day. “Today, we need to consider if the charge of abolishing the mass, or the chief worship of Christ applies to us today, particularly here in Ethiopia. You as leaders of the church need to evaluate this for yourselves.” What ensued was an engaging lecture with excellent dialog in the class of about 36 people.
Part of the lecture was a demonstration and practicum on how to not “abolish the mass” included singing the opening versicles of Matins. The EECMY does not have Matins or Vespers as part of its liturgical tradition. The missionaries 90 some years ago translated the Divine Service with Holy Communion and a Service of the Word from German and Scandinavian languages into Amharic and Oromo, but they did not translate Matins or Vespers. When LCMS people began teaching on the campus of Mekane Yesus Seminary, they would hold a Matins service from time to time in the chapel. After seeing the service from the Lutheran Service Book a few times, the leadership asked if assistance could be given to put Matins into Amharic. The next EECMY hymnal revision may contain the order of Matins and Vespers. Dr. Baue is involved in bringing these services into Amharic by helping to put it in an Ethiopian context.
Dr. Baue’s demonstration of the opening versicles of Matins, prompted a discussion on “contextualization” and a discussion about how to properly contextualize worship both in the 21st century and in Ethiopia. Dr. Baue explained that the music and the instruments need to be contextualized for a given people and location, but the basic forms and content should remain consistent. This brought about a discussion on Lutheran doctrine. One of the students raised his hand and said, “Lutheran doctrine is nothing other than Biblical doctrine. The teachings of the Lutheran church come directly from the Bible.” Dr. Baue then asked, “What is pure doctrine?” as he began to draw on the chalk board.
The quality of the artwork aside, Dr. Baue illustrated “pure doctrine” with a glass of milk. He quoted 1 Peter 2:2, “long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.” Christian teaching is spiritual milk by which we grow up to salvation. He asked how many flies would have to be in the glass of milk before you refused to drink the glass of milk? Nearly the entire class said, “No flies!” Dr. Baue explained that reason, philosophy, culture, even contextualization that take us away from the cross of Jesus are flies in the milk. He said the reason we study the Augsburg Confession is to help us keep flies out of the milk. The class remained engaged in the lecture to the point of nearly forgetting to take a coffee break. At the end appreciation was expressed for the lecture. Dr. Baue will remain teaching for several months.
For the past two years, the LCMS has been actively assisting in the masters level theology program at Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS). Support for the program includes scholarships, curriculum assistance, and instructors. Presently, there are about 65 students enrolled in the masters program. The master degree students are or will become Synod leaders and instructors at Bible schools and regional seminaries. Those who teach at the MYS seminary frequently study abroad, increasingly at LCMS seminaries. Funding for the MA student scholarships, for the instructors who teach at the Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS), and scholarships to study at LCMS seminaries is provided by the Global Seminary Initiative (GSI). To see the opportunities the Global Seminary Initiative is meeting please visit: http://www.lcms.org/makeagift/gsi
Opportunities in Africa (Ethiopia in this case) abound for theological education. Opportunities exist both for a person who wants to travel overseas to teach a class and for students who are taught at a local insinuation or who receive a scholarship to study at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, or Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis.
The video highlights how the Global Seminary Initiative (GSI) is helping connect qualified volunteers with teaching opportunities overseas and students with opportunities to study locally or possibility at an LCMS seminary. Two students are interviewed: a future deaconess who has been accepted to Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne and a PhD student who has been accepted for study at Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis. Two instructors are interviewed about their experience at Mekane Yesus Seminary. Finally, Rev. Shauen Trump, Area Director for East Africa, speaks about how theological education is the single largest request he receives in Africa.
For more information about the Global Seminary Initiative please visit: http://www.lcms.org/makeagift/gsi
3 February 2015
After arriving at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, we went to the Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS). Once on campus, we went to the Lutheran Confessions class taught by Dr. Fred Baue. This is Dr. Baue’s second time teaching at the MYS seminary. His first teaching stint lasted six months. This time Dr. Baue will remain for four months teaching the Lutheran Confessions and English. He also will be composing some liturgical music. The Global Seminary Initiative (GSI) helps send professors to teach at seminaries around the world. It also helps provide books for the class room.
The Lutheran Confessions class makes use of Concordia Publishing House’s Readers Edition — Pocket Edition of the Book of Concord. The EECMY church subscribes to the unaltered Augsburg Confession and Luther’s catechisms. Until recently, the church body did not have the entire Book of Concord in Amharic. At the MYS seminary, in the Lutheran Confessions class, Dr. Baue uses the entire Book of Concord.
Dr. Daniel Brege came to Ethiopia for the first time to teach the Psalms at MYS. Today will be the first day he teaches. Prior to his teaching, we met in the Dean of Theology Office to print copies of his syllabus and assign the class room. Rev. Shauen Trump, East Africa Area Facilitator or the Office of International Mission, helps oversee the LCMS’ work in Ethiopia.
After meeting with people we took a coffee break at the MYS Cafe. Coffee is a must in Ethiopia and facilitates discussion and friendship. Over coffee we planned the rest of our day.
LCMS U has managed to reach Ethiopia — at least the LCMS U shirt has made it to Ethiopia. Looking to a very good visit in Ethiopia this week.
On Saturday, 30 January 2015, the Association of Lutheran Mission Agencies (ALMA) held a mini-conference on “Facing New Realities: Lutheran Mission in the 21st Century.” ALMA began in 1996 with 10 mission societies; today, ALMA consists of approximately 65 mission societies. The mini-conference began around 1 PM and finished at 4 PM. Dr. Douglas Rutt from Lutheran Hour Ministries served as the moderator. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations / Regional Operations presented on behalf of OIM. Rev. Jeffrey Thormodson presented on behalf of the Lutheran Society for Missiology.
Dr. Collver presented on OIM’s strategic plan and how that engages mission in the 21st century. He also discussed the recent CCM opinion regarding the Board for International Mission (BIM) role as the only sending agency of the Synod. Collver indicated to ALMA that the CCM opinion had little effect on mission societies in general. If the mission society wished to send a rostered worker of the Synod they would need to work with the BIM. He also indicated that BIM / OIM would like to work with the mission societies to increase each other’s capacity and to promote the Gospel of Jesus to the world.
Rev. Jeffry Thormodson presented on how mission societies bring innovation and new ideas to the mission field and are able to respond to the changing landscape more quickly than larger organizations. Mission societies also are able to work with groups too small or isolated for larger groups such as the Synod. He indicated how the Internet and social media have changed the world and how we do mission.
Rev. Berhard Seter, Chairman of the BIM, and Butch Almstedt, Vice-Chairman of the BIM, attended the meeting to discuss how the BIM would implement polices based upon the CCM opinion that the BIM is the sole sending agency of the Synod so that mission societies could work collaboratively with BIM / OIM. The OIM’s Regional Directors attended and participated in the Q & A. Over all this was a very good opportunity for the mission societies and OIM to get tougher to discuss how to cooperate.
President Matthew Harrison and Dr. David Erber, OIM Area Director for West Africa
31 January 2015
The Board for International Mission (BIM) honored Rev. Dr. David Erber, OIM Area Director for West Africa, for the 28th anniversary of his arrival in Nigeria. Dr. Erber was in Saint Louis first for the Office of International Mission Regional Directors’ meeting, the ALMA conference, and the BIM meeting, where he spoke how the Gospel of Jesus was being shared in Africa by the LCMS. Yesterday, while attending the ALMA meeting, Dr. Erber mentioned that his wife sent him an email, “Happy Anniversary.” Everyone, of course, assumed he spoke of his wedding anniversary to his wife, Joyce. David explained, “Not my wedding anniversary, but my 28th anniversary from when I deployed to Nigeria as a missionary.” The BIM wanted to honor Dr. Erber for his service.
President Matthew Harrison, Dr. David Erber, Rev. Bernie Seter, Chairman of the BIM
The BIM heard that Dr. Erber wished he could own a copy of the Concordia Commentary Series. With the help of Dr. Bruce Kintz and Concordia Publishing House, the BIM was able to present Dr. Erber with the entire Concordia Commentary Series. Congratulations to Dr. Erber and his wife Joyce for their many years of faithful service in the mission field!
Dr. Erber presents to the BIM about challenges and opportunities in West Africa.