Wittenberg Meeting


On Wednesday, 29 January 2014, the International Lutheran Society of Wittenberg (ILSW) met in Wittenberg, Germany, to discuss the ongoing reconstruction of the Old Latin School. The LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM) area facilitators also were able to join the ILSW for a tour of the construction site.


LCMS President Matthew Harrison, SELK Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt, and the Oberbürgermeister of Wittenberg Eckhard Naumann discuss the reconstruction of the Old Latin School.


Pastor Michael Kumm, chairman of the ILSW, conducts the meeting. Bruce Kintz, President and CEO of CPH, Rev. Dr. Lawrence Rast, President of Concordia Theological Seminary and Chairman of the CTCR, and Mr. David Rohe, executive director of CID CEF, listen to the update on the project.


The reconstruction of the main room which will serve as the chapel in the reconstructed Old Latin School. The main beam has warped approximately 6 inches over 400 plus years.


The Old Latin School being reconstructed next to St Mary’s church in Wittenberg.

- Posted by Dr Albert B Collver on 29 January 2014 using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Schloßstraße,Kleinwittenberg,Germany

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Ethiopia Last Day

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Today, President Harrison put on his World Relief and Human Care uniform and visited a center for mentally disabled children in Mekanissa. The total number of children assisted is 372.

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Prior to the center’s founding in 1986, mentally disabled children were hidden away in dark rooms — their very existence was denied. The German Lutheran theologian Oswald Bayer said that to be justified is to be recognized. In some cases, the recognition of people, in this case, the human care for the children brings them into contact with the church so they can hear the Gospel.

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A variety of techniques are used to train the children in life skills. The boy above is being taught in a Montessori way.

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A boy learning how to tie his shoes.

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A young man learning how to make coffee.

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Some at the center learn marketable life skills. The children above are baking communion hosts for the church.

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President Harrison greets a diary cow who has an infected foot. The center for disabled children receives its milk from diary cows kept on the facility.

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Posted around the facility is Proverbs 31:8, “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.”

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The facility keeps incredibly good records.

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We said goodbye the children, deeply moved and impressed by the care they receive.

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Before we left we visited the library to see a 19th century Ge’ez document which sought to reform the Ethiopian Orthodox Church by teaching on the Sacraments and justification. The Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS) has the Ge’ez and Amharic versions in their library.

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There are plans to produce a triglotta version in Ge’ez, Amharic, and English.

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President Harrison with Mihreteab, the librarian at MYS, examining the Ge’ez manuscript.

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Exchanged gifts…

We look forward to visiting Ethiopia again.

- Posted by Dr Albert Collver on 27 January 2014 using BlogPress from my iPhone

Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod announce formal discussions

For Immediate Release

ST. LOUIS, January 27, 2014—Representatives and leaders from the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) met at the Mekane Yesus Seminary, the EECMY headquarters, and the Gudina Tumsa Wholistic Training Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 23 – 26, 2014, to discuss the relationship between the two church bodies.

Those meeting included the Rev. Dr.Wakseyoum Idosa, president of the EECMY; the Rev. Dr. Berhanu Ofgaa, general secretary of EECMY; the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of the LCMS; the Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, LCMS director of Church Relations and Regional Operations; and LCMS missionaries the Rev. Dr. Carl Rockrohr, Dean of the School of Theology at Mekane Yesus Seminary, and Deaconess Dr. Deborah Rockrohr.

Although the churches have diverse histories and developed in different contexts, the EECMY and the LCMS have discovered that both church bodies believe that the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God and the only source and infallible norm of all Church doctrine and practice. Both churches also subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions.

Article 2 of the EECMY constitution states the following: “The Holy Scriptures of the Old and the New Testaments are the Holy Word of God and the only source and infallible norm of all Church doctrine and practice; the Church adheres to the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed …; the Church sees in the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, which was worded by the Church Reformers, as well as in Luther’s Catechisms, a pure exposition of the Word of God.”

Article 2 of the LCMS constitution states: “The Synod, and every member of Synod, accepts without reservation: The Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament as the written Word of God and the only rule and norm of faith and of practice; all the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as a true and unadulterated statement and exposition of the Word of God, to wit: the three Ecumenical Creeds (the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed), the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, the Large Catechism of Luther, the Small Catechism of Luther, and the Formula of Concord.”

Although the two church bodies recognize they have differences in doctrine and practice in certain specific areas, both believe that the common confession they share about the Holy Scriptures and acceptance of the ecumenical creeds, the unaltered Augsburg Confession, and the Small and Large Catechisms justifies, even demands, that the two churches engage in more formal discussion regarding areas of agreement and disagreement.

As an outcome of the meeting, the EECMY and the LCMS agreed to appoint a three-member team from each church body, along with the church bodies’ respective presidents, to begin formal doctrinal discussions. This six-person team, plus the two church body presidents, will begin doctrinal discussions within the next nine months and have the authority to form other ad hoc committees for particular topics as needed.

Wakseyoum said he hopes that, “through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the study of the Holy Scriptures, both church bodies would come closer to each other.”

Harrison said: “Contact between our church bodies began almost a decade ago. We have been tremendously encouraged by Mekane Yesus’ public confession of the Holy Scriptures regarding issues of sexuality. Their zeal in outreach is something the Missouri Synod can learn from. I am glad that we have come by God’s grace to this moment of serious dialogue.”

While the church bodies engage in dialogue, both will look for areas where they can mutually support one another.

About The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY)

The EECMY was formed in 1959 as various synods started by several different mission societies merged into one church. In the 1970s the EECMY developed the theme “Serving the Whole Person,” now often quoted and referred to as holistic ministry. This has been a guiding principle for all evangelistic or developmental church work. Beginning with 20,000 members in 1959, the EECMY has grown to 6.35 million members. Learn more at http://www.eecmy.org.

About The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS)

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, founded in 1847, is a biblical, confessional, witness-oriented Christian denomination with 2.3 million members – 600,000 households – in 6,200 congregations. Through acts of witness and mercy, the church carries out its mission worldwide to make known the love of Jesus Christ. Learn more at www.lcms.org.

Africa Trip: Ethiopia Sunday


Today we visited the Addia Ababa Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, more commonly known as the Mother Church.


The pastor was vested and conducted the liturgy in Amharic. The liturgy is based off of the Lutheran Swedish liturgy.


A page from the EECMY hymnal.
It is written in Amharic, which is the second most spoken Semitic language in the world after Arabic.


The choir sang severs songs during the service. Many of the songs were from the period of the Marxist Derg Regime, and had apocalyptic overtones. One song written when the Gospel could not be proclaimed freely described how the gospel would go out into the world and be victorious by bringing about the Lord’s kingdom. Another song said, “We are in the desert, but The Lord will remember his promise and drown our enemies like Pharaoh and his army.”


The church was full. A number of expats from America and Scandinavia attended the service.


After the service, church and congregation leaders gathered with us and other visitors for a photograph.


After lunch, we visited the Entoto Maryam Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

- Posted by Dr. Albert Collver on 26 January 2014 using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Addis Ababa,Ethiopia

Africa: Ethiopia Day 2


Today, the LCMS Delegation, consisting of President Mathew Harrison, Dr Collver, Dr. Carl Rockrohr, and Dr. Debbie Rockrohr, met with EECMY leaders at the Mekane Yesus Seminary and at the EECMY headquarters.


At the Mekane Yesus Seminary,
President Harrison presented to faculty, students, and church leaders on Lutheran identity. The presentation was followed by a Q & A session moderated by Dr. Carl Rockrohr.


After the presentation on Lutheran Identity, President Harrison played the banjo. Mekane Yesus Seminary has a music school on campus. After finishing playing, the banjo found its way into the capable hands of the director of the music school.


Over lunch Dr. Berhanu, the EECMY General Secretary, described the church’s persecution under the Marxist Derg Regime (1974-1991), including his own imprisonment. Dr. Berhanu closed by saying, “The Lord always works a blessing through persecution. Through persecution, The Lord purifies his Church.”


In a presentation about the EECMY, we learned that the first Lutheran, Peter Heyling, arrived in Ethiopia in 1633 AD. He worked in Gonder between 1634-1652. He practiced medicine and taught Greek and Hebrew to the Ethiopian Orthodox Priests at Gonder. He tried to reform the Ethiopian church by teaching sola Scriptura and by translating the New Testament into Amharic, the vernacular of the ruling class. In 1648, Heyling fell out of favor and was forced to leave Ethiopia. On his return to Germany, he was captured by the Turks and offered the choice of conversion to Islam or death. Peter Heyling chose death rather than to deny Christ, becoming a martyr at the age of 44. Traces of his work remain an influence in the EECMY today.


At the end of the day, both President Wakseyoum of the EECMY and LCMS President Matthew Harrison offered reflections about the day. President Harrison commended the Mekane Yesus church for desiring to remain faithful to the Holy Scriptures and for taking difficult stands on Biblical teaching that were unpopular with her partners. In particular, President Harrison commended the EECMY for breaking fellowship with the ELCA and the CoS over their position of affirming homosexual marriage and clergy. President Harrison also discussed frankly where he believed the EECMY and the LCMS had differences in doctrine and practice. President Wakseyoum thanked President Harrison for his honesty. While holding his Bible in hand, President Wakseyoum stated the EECMY’s and the LCMS’s commitment to the Holy Scriptures was the primary reason that the two churches should be talking to one another. He stated that fellowship comes through the working of the Holy Spirit. In the mean time both churches should pray and study the Scriptures.


President Harrison signs the EECMY guest book in Dr. Wakseyoum’s office.

- Posted by Dr. Albert Collver on 24 January 2014 using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Addis Ababa,Ethiopia