Archive for January 2014

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

Africa: Ethiopia Introductions

Yesterday, 23 January 2014, President Harrison arrived in Ethiopia for his first visit there. After a several hour travel delay in Nairobi and an aborted landing attempt, we safely arrived in Addis Ababa. We met with the leaders from the Mekane Yesus Seminary and the EECMY. Pictured above: President Wakseyoum gives President Harrison a copy of the seminary’s history.

Dr. Belay, President of MYS gave a presentation on the eecmy and the seminary.

We saw a presentation on the history of the seminary and it’s future plans.

President Harrison tried his hand at a traditional Ethiopian instrument.

Today we are scheduled to visit with seminary faculty and students.

Drs. Rockrohr and Collver stand outside the guesthouse. Dr. Carl Rockrohr from the LCMS Office of International Mission serves as the Dean of Theology at Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS).

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

Location:Addis Ababa,Ethiopia

Africa Trip: Kenya

Dr. Al Collver, Archbishop Walter Obare, and President Harrison in Nairobi Kenya.

On 22 January 2014, President Harrison visited the headquarters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya (ELCK), in altar and pulpit fellowship with the LCMS and a member of the International Lutheran Council (ILC), to celebrate a decade of LCMS work with the ELCK. President Harrison, then executive director of World Relief and Human Care, visited Kenya in December 2003 at the request of then Bishop Walter Obare.

Former street children from Nakuru now under the care of the ELCK demonstrated gymnastics for the LCMS delegation.

A choir sings gospel songs.

Archbishop Obare and Rev. Shauen Trump discuss how the LCMS and the ELCK can better cooperate.

View of Children’s Traffic park on Uhuru Road from the headquarters of the ELCK.

President Harrison, Dr. Collver, and Rev. Shauen Trump spent the day with Archbishop Obare and the bishops and bishops elect from each region of the ELCK. Remembrance of the past and hope for the future occupied the day.

President Harrison and Dr. Collver departed Kenya for Ethiopia.

– Posted on 23 January 2014 by Dr. Albert Collver using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Oloitoktok Road,Nairobi,Kenya

Do Not Hold Back

Eighteen years ago while serving as district president, I became aware of some unrest in one of our well-established congregations caused by a small group of people whose interests didn’t fit in. Most of the congregation wanted to continue to do things more conventionally, which I certainly supported. This small group wanted to try new things, most of them very acceptable to our LCMS way of thinking and doing.

I remember meeting with this group in one of their living rooms one evening. They were truly a black sheep group, having fallen out of favor not only with their congregation but with surrounding LCMS congregations and pastors. I provided a little counsel about some things that interested them that were out of step with the Synod. Having obtained their cooperation, I also recognized among them a real energy and interest in serving their Lord. Rather than discourage or oppose them, I advocated their peaceful release from their former congregation, supported their efforts to form an LCMS congregation, and provided initial pastoral service on Sundays when I was available to do so.

The rest of their story to date is 18 years of hard and faithful labor, abundantly blessed by God. They began by purchasing an old building with many rooms to serve as their Father’s House. Using their own considerable talents and resources, they remodeled it to provide worship space and modest beginnings for an early childhood ministry. They called a pastor who also recognized their interest and energy in serving their Lord and provided faithful and compatible spiritual leadership. Their small number and ministry to the community began to grow. After several years they sold their first building to purchase a more suitable one. They and their ministry continued to prosper over the years.

This past Sunday I preached for the dedication of their most recent building, purchased with the help of the district church extension fund. The text I used was Isaiah 54:2. It was a wonderful day of reminiscing and marveling and giving thanks by congregation and pastor, district personnel, the fifth vice-president of the Synod, and members and pastors of surrounding congregations.

It was a glorious dedication by a now-much-larger congregation of their 120,000 sq. ft. building that they have been able to convert into a church-like exterior, a beautiful sanctuary, and an amazing Early Childhood Center serving more than 200 children. And there is plenty of room to spare…for a future interest, a parochial school.

An amazing story, in which I was privileged to play a small part. I only mention it, as someone with a more conservative bent, because I marvel how I was led to recognize the need to do the right thing, to step outside the box and “not hold back” (Isaiah 54:2).

Ray Hartwig