CHINANDEGA, Nicaragua – The 5th Convention of the Lutheran Church Synod of Nicaragua (Iglesia Luterano Sínodo de Nicaragua – ILSN) met in Chinandega January 9-10, 2016. Rev. Marvin Donaire was elected to his second 4-year term as President on the first ballot of the convention’s opening day. In addition, the ILSN received three new member congregations, bringing the total to 25, and grappled with an unfulfilled resolution from the last convention to open a new mission in the national capital, Managua.
Delegates met under the theme of 1 Peter 2:2, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, to that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” Various reports from the Synod’s life in the past biennium showed gradual growth and maturing taking place. In addition to the reception of new local churches, the Synod’s treasurer reported that financial support to the ILSN by its congregations increased about 70% in 2015 in comparison to the previous year.
Among guests at the convention was Rev. Dr. Hans-Jörg Voigt, Bishop of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany and Chairman of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). The ILC voted in September 2014 to receive the Nicaraguans as a member church body, and delegates in Chinandega unanimously resolved to ratify this action. Bishop Voigt brought greetings to the assembly and emphasized how deeply impressed he was over the ILSN’s development since the late Rev. Sandor Argüello first arrived to begin missions there. Bishop Voigt was especially glad to see how ILSN President Marvin has already become involved in the ILC’s Latin America world region, and felt that the Nicaraguans have much to teach other churches, particularly in their intensive use of deaconesses as the “front line” teachers of children in local congregations.
Confessional Lutheran work in Nicaragua was sponsored by Lutheran Church-Canada (LCC), which called Rev. Argüello as a lone missionary in 1997. LCC pastors and seminary professors have provided pastoral and diaconal training since that time, with significant growth leading to ILSN’s founding convention in early 2008. Since then, the ILSN has also begun mission work in the neighbouring countries of Honduras and Costa Rica. LCC continues to support ILSN pastors active as new mission developers until their stations are received as full-fledged congregations.
LCC was represented at the recent convention by President Robert Bugbee, who also served as a Bible study leader on the convention’s chosen theme and preached at the closing service of Holy Communion on Sunday morning. “I am overjoyed at seeing the Nicaraguans take their place among the ILC’s member churches,” he said, “and am glad that their work is an encouragement to others, just as they are grateful for the support and encouragement they have received from Canada. To be sure, the growth of God’s church is never easy or without pain. We know that from the book of Acts and from Paul’s letters in the New Testament. But the Lord is doing His work in the real world, with all its challenges and weaknesses, and the story of our beloved Nicaraguans shows just how true that is!”
A number of Canadian partners attended Sunday worship at the convention, including a large team under the supervision of Mrs. Lisa Jackson of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Waterloo, Ontario. Team members began their work with children, largely in areas in and around the city of León, the day after the convention closed. Parishes like Redeemer and St. Paul’s (Elmira, Ontario) have sent people to help with teaching and practical projects like construction and agricultural support for many years.