Pictured (left to right): Hjalmar Bø, Øyvind Åsland, Albert Collver
On 19 August 2015, Øyvin Åsland, Executive Director of Norwegian Lutheran Mission (NLM), and Hjalmar Bø, Director NLM International Department, came to Saint Louis to visit with the Missouri Synod and to learn more about the International Lutheran Council (ILC). The Norwegian Lutheran Mission (NLM) was formed in 1891 as Det Norske Lutherske Kinamisjonsforbund (the Norwegian Lutheran Federation for Mission in China). NLM is connected to the revival movements in Norway and adheres to the Holy Scriptures, the Ecumenical Creeds, the Augsburg Confession and the Small and Large Catechisms. NLM’s slogan is “The World for Christ.” The Norwegian Lutheran Mission operates in several of the same countries where the Missouri Synod also operates. For instance, the Norwegian Lutheran Missionaries established Tabor Evangelical College in Ethiopia. Currently, some of the faculty from Tabor Evangelical College are attending doctorate classes at Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis. Missionaries from NLM have frequent contact with Missouri Synod missionaries in places such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Latin America, and Africa. Although there have been many informal contacts through the years, this is the first time that the Norwegian Lutheran Mission has sought official contacts with the Missouri Synod and with the International Lutheran Council.
Øyvind Åsland and Hjalmar Bø at Concordia Publishing House
Since 1891 (three years before the Missouri Synod engaged in international mission work), the Norwegian Lutheran Mission has been seeking to plant Lutheran churches around the world. NLM always has been a movement within but not under the Church of Norway and has been primarily a lay movement that sought to engage in missions. The Norwegian Lutheran Mission does not support the ordination of women. Most recently, the Norwegian Lutheran Mission voted to “establish religious communities” by a vote of 548 in favor to 121 against.
The vote for the Norwegian Lutheran Mission (NLM) to establish “religious communities” is rather significant as it marks the shift of NLM from being purely a mission agency to also a church. As such NLM has begun to wrestle with the implications of this decision, such as how it will relate to other churches in the world and what sorts of relationships it will seek.
Pictured (left to right): Rev. Paul McCain, Dr. Albert Collver, Jonathan Schulz, Øyvind Åsland and Hjalmar Bø
At Concordia Publishing House, the representatives from the Norwegian Lutheran Mission received an overview of CPH products that might be of interest to the mission field. In the past, NLM has translated a few books from CPH into Norwegian. They also received a tour of the facilities.
After visiting Concordia Publishing House, the NLM representatives had the opportunity to visit Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis. Once again, the Norwegian Lutheran Mission is familiar with Concordia Seminary as some of their missionaries and leaders have studied there in the past.
Dr. Jeff Kloha Provides An Overview of the Campus
At Concordia Seminary, the representatives from NLM saw highlights of the campus including the rare book room, where they saw the Bach Bible and Codex Vaticanus. The representatives from NLM noted how it is amazing that an institution remained faithful to the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions for 175 years, which only happens by the grace of God.
The first formal visit with the Norwegian Lutheran Mission went well and we are looking forward to more visits in the future.
— Rev. Albert B. Collver, Ph.D., Director of Church Relations
On Sunday, 16 August 2015, we attended worship at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana (ELCG) in Accra, Ghana. Approximately 300 people attended the morning service. The service was fuller than usual due to a youth conference which was held at the church and a symposium on same-sex marriage after the service.
The Choir at St. Paul’s Lutheran sang “God is our Protector” before the sermon.
The choir sings.
Rev. Steven Schumacher preached on John 6.
After the sermon, people come to from to give their offering. During their offering, the entire congregation sings and sometimes dances.
The congregation sings and dances during the presentation of the offering.
Immediately following the service, a symposium on same-sex marriage was held in the congregation. The recent decision of the US Supreme Court to legalize same sex marriage in all fifty States has had worldwide effect. The panelists discussed the topic of same sex marriage from a variety of perspectives including updates on the situation in the United States, perspectives from the Ghanian legal system, Biblical perspectives, and from a Ghanian cultural perspective. LCMS people participated in the panel including Dr. Albert Collver, Dr. David Erber, and Rev. Steve Schumacher.
Approximately 300 people attended the symposium on same sex marriage. The event was broadcast on Ghanian television and covered in the local newspapers.
Rt. Rev. Bishop Paul Kofi Fynn listened attentively to the presentations.
Presentations also covered how Ghanian culture viewed marriage and how the Ghanian legal system viewed civil rights and homosexual activity. A challenge for nations such as Ghana is that Western development aid and loans are often tied to adopting a human rights perspective that allows for same sex marriage.
On evening Saturday, 2015 August 15, Bishop Paul Fynn of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana, Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations for the LCMS, and Dr. David Erber along with LCMS missionaries Steve and Cindy Schumacher and professors and students from the Ghanian Lutheran Seminary dedicated two new seminary residences.
Blessing of the Seminary Residence in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Cutting of the Ribbon
The seminary residence was built in cooperation with a grant provided by the Global Seminary Initiative (GSI), LCMS human care, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana. The seminary residence was needed because of the completion of the Ghana Lutheran Seminary which was dedicated by President Matthew Harrison, and the new missionaries who have arrived in West Africa.
Bishop Paul Fynn, Dr. Albert Collver, and the Builder of the House
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana was established in 1958 by missionaries from The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. ELCG (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana) became a partner church of the LCMS in 1971. Currently membership of the ELCG stands at 29,000. Nine missionaries from the LCMS are working alongside local pastors, evangelists, and lay leaders in more than 1,000 congregations and preaching stations.
The dedication service outside the residence
Missionary Steve Schumacher pictured signed at the dedication
After the dedication of the residence house, a tour of the house was provided. The house was constructed to international standards so that Westerners would feel comfortable staying in the house.
Advanced, energy efficient lighting in the living room
A modern kitchen with furnishings from Germany
People gathering and enjoying the evening
Rev. Steve Schumacher and his wife Cindy pictured
The seminary residence pictured with a car port and a wall.
The Lutheran Church of Nigeria held a deaconess conference with the LCMS on the theme, “Deaconesses in Mission.” Approximately 200 women attended.
The women were very eager to join the conference.
Deaconess Grace Rao spoke about the role of women in the church.
Dr. Collver reflected on the Lutheran Church of Nigeria’s Theme, “Christ Lives in Me,” and used the Gospel of Mark to describe the Christ that lives in you, while tying it to mercy works.
Dr. David Erber assisted with the conference.
Nigeria in the rainy season.
The Lutheran Church Of Nigeria (LCN) was the LCMS’ first African mission start. The church began in 1936 in Uyo, Obot Idim. Archbishop Christian Ekong in the video above outlines some basic information about the Lutheran Church of Nigeria and speaks about the challenges of needing to train 100 pastors immediately at the Jonathan Ekong Memorial Seminary (JEMS) while only having a handful of professors to teach. The church has about 133,000 members in 355 congregations with 250 pastors and 50 evangelists.
Archbishop Ekong in Seminary Library
Jonathan Ekong Memorial Seminary Sign
Student at JEMS holding his CPH Book Lutheranism 101