Posts tagged Ethiopia
Approximately 3,500 pastors of the Mekane Yesus church in Ethiopia gathered on April 15-17 for a pastors conference. They met on the campus of Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS) in Addis Ababa. The conference theme was “Our Vocation: Devotion to Prayer, Ministry of the Word and Leadership.”
Dr. Wakseyoum, President of the 7.2 million member Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, interprets Dr. Berhanu’s presentation on Ephesians 4 for Dr. Collver.
Dr. Berhanu’s presentation focuses on Ephesians 4:1, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” Dr. Berhanu desired to encourage pastors in their vocation and calling. He told the pastors that they were first called by the Lord in their baptism. Every Christian has this calling. The Christian goes to church and hears God’s Word and then goes out into the World and shares Christ with people. Then Dr. Berhanu spoke about how St. Paul and Jeremiah were called directly by God. Jesus himself appeared to St. Paul and called him to be an Apostle. Dr. Berhanu said to the pastors you were called by Jesus too. Jesus called you to be pastors through the church. Then he asked them, “Are you certain of your call?” The group of pastors said, “Amen.” Dr. Berhanu said, “You are certain of your call because the Lord called you through the Church.” His presentation was both well received and inspirational.
The conference also had presentations on Lutheran identity. The EECMY in recent years has been interested in the topic of Lutheran identity, in particular how to preserve identity in the face of rapid growth and with a shortage of trained pastors. Over the next few years the EECMY would like to train approximately another 8,000 to 10,000 pastors.
The LCMS delegation observed a portion of the EECMY pastors’ conference from the top of the dinning hall, whose construction was assisted by the LCMS. Pictured (left to right): Rev. Shauen Trump, LCMS Area Director of East Africa; Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations / Regional Operations; Rev. Eric Stinnett, LCMS Instructor at MYS; Rev. Mark Rabe, LCMS Instructor at MYS.
A highlight of the pastors’ conference was the presentation of the Book of Concord in Amharic by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation. Rev. Dr. Robert Rahn and Rev. Matthew Heise presented them to Dr. Wakseyoum of the EECMY.
All 3,500 pastors received a copy of the Book of Concord in Amharic. Prior to this event, there were approximately 900 copies of the Book of Concord in Ethiopia. Now every pastor has a copy.
The pastors sitting under the tent looking at the Book of Concord.
The Book of Concord will be of great benefit for the EECMY as it seeks to enhance its Lutheran identity. The pastors’ conference was deemed a success.
— Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver
14 April 2015
Today, the LCMS group — Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations / Regional Operations; Rev. Juan Gonzalez, Board for International Mission member; Rev. Mark Rabe, Missionary to East Africa / professor at MYS; Rev. Shauen Trump, Area Director for East Africa — along with people from the EECMY left Addis Ababa for Fiche to see a EECMY mission start and its context with a nearby orthodox monastery.
Pictured (left to right): Rev. Mark Rabe, professor to MYS; Rev. Shauen Trump, Area Director of East Africa; Rev. Juan Gonzalez, Member of the Board for International Mission; in car from Addis Ababa to Fiche.
A road we traveled down near Fiche. At times the road became impassable for the Land Rover and we were forced to walk to our next destination. In this case, a mission start for the EECMY.
Visiting the site where the EECMY-CES is building a new congregation. Qes Abraham, President of the Central Ethiopian Synoc, explains that the new congregation will be done in the style of the “Mother Congregation” in Addis Ababa built in 1920. Today the congregation worships about 400 people on a Sunday.
After seeing the EECMY congregation, we visited the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church monastery called “Debre Libanos.” This monastery was founded by the 13th century saint Tekle Haykmanot. He remains the only native Ethiopian saint popular both domestically as well as outside Ethiopia; he is the only Ethiopian saint celebrated officially in foreign churches such as Rome and Egypt.
Before we could enter, we were asked to observe the rules listed above before entering the church.
The current structure was built in 1961 under the orders of Emperor Halie Selassie. In 1937 the Italians massacred the inhabitants of Debre Libanos killing 297 monks and 23 laymen.
The inside of Debre Libanos has many stained glass windows.
A stained glass window inside Debre Libanos of Adam and Eve at the top and Noah at the bottom.
After visiting Debre Libanos, we went to the Portuguese Bridge built in the 16th century.
The Portuguese Bridge is near the Blue Nile Water Fall. We visited during the dry season. It covers the Jemma River Gorge.
Pictured: Rev. Mark Rabe, Theological Education at MYS; Rev. Shauen Trump, East Africa Area Director; Beza Tefera, Dean’s Office at MYS. Walking across the bridge for a view of the Ethiopian Rift Valley.
Dr. Collver sitting on the edge of the Ethiopian Rift Valley.
After the journey north, we headed back to Addis Ababa for the EECMY pastors’ conference which begins on Wednesday, 15 April 2015. That evening we picked up Rev. Eric Stinnett, who will serve as a theological educator at MYS along with Rev. Mark Rabe.
Pictured (left to right): Dr. Collver, Director of Church Relations / Regional Operations; Dr. Belay Olam, President of MYS; Rev. Juan Gonzalez, BIM member; Rev. Shauen Trump, East Africa Area Director; Rev. Eric Stinnett, Instructor MYS.
On 19-21 March 2015, The LCMS and EECMY held a conference titled, “Recovering Lutheran Identity in Worship and Music.” The conference originated from the work of the EECMY hymnal committee, which is seeking to develop a new hymnal for the EECMY. Deaconess Sandra Rhein from the Missouri Synod works with the EECMY’s hymnal committee. She has made several trips to Ethiopia for this work and most recently organized the worship conference. This post is based upon her reports.
The first action of this Hymnal Committee was to sponsor a three-day Worship and Music Conference. The goal of the conference was to teach the fundamentals of what theology and music mean for the faithful. It was held March 19—21 at Gudima Tumsa Training Center in Addis Ababa. Invitations were sent to 150 pastors and music leaders, as well as select seminary students. Over 160 attended, with a larger attendance each day as word spread about the wonderful Biblical teaching, and the participants were attentive and appreciative throughout three full days of lectures and presentations. At the conclusion of the conference, each attendance was presented a copy of the newly published book Catechisms, Creeds and Confessions (Click to see a previous blog post about this resource).
The conference was held over three days beginning with Matins and ending with Vespers. Presentations were given by Deaconess Sandra Rhein, Dr. Fred Baue, and Rev. Christopher Esget. Sectionals included topics such as “How to read music,” “Jesus, Help! The Kyrie as the basic prayer of the Christian,” “The connection between doctrine and worship.”
The conference presenters pictured left to right: Dr. Fred Baue, Mr. Girum Fantaye, Deaconess Sandra Rhein, and Rev. Christopher Esget. Conference presenters were Dr. Fred Baue (retired), Rev. Christopher Esget (Immanuel, Alexandria, VA), and Deaconess Sandra Rhein (Emmaus, South Bend, IN). Rev. Esget’s topic was “the gift of liturgy”. God chooses to come to us and give His gifts to us through the liturgy. Our liturgical life is faithful to Biblical teachings and also distinctly Lutheran. Dr. Baue spoke on the meaning of “Lutheran identity” and how the Book of Concord is necessary for our confession. Dr. Baue has also been experimenting with a musical setting for Matins and Vespers, using Ethiopian pentatonic scales. These settings were used to open and close each day of the conference. Deaconess Rhein taught the music of Matins and Vespers to the participants, along with an introducing them to music notation and the practice of chanting.
In the video above, Deaconess Sandra Rhein teaches how to sing the opening versicles.
Although the lectures were conducted in English, the ultimate goal is to issue a revision of the liturgy in Amharic. The first edition of the liturgy in Amharic was completed by the the Swedish missionaries in the 1920s. The EECMY used this consistently until the communist government took over. The rapid growth of the EECMY along with the lack of printed resources has decreased the knowledge of the historic liturgy among many members. The EECMY asked the LCMS to assist them with a hymnal to help increase their Lutheran identity.
In addition to the hymnody the EECMY inherited from the Scandinavian Missionaries, they also have indigenous songs that developed out of the Ethiopian context and in some cases from the persecution the church faced. The song book pictured above was compiled by Scandinavian missionaries in the early 1970s. Some of these songs such as “What Kind of Love Is This?,” are known to the LCMS — See Lutheran Service Book 542. In LSB the hymn is known as “When I Behold Jesus Christ.”
Pictured above is a copy of “What Kind of Love Is This? by Almaz Belhu. The above photo may be the earliest printing of that hymn. Any revision of the EECMY hymnal will consider the historic hymns of the church, along with newer songs and hymns developed in the Ethiopian context.
It is an exciting time for world Lutheranism!
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