By ilconline

A Country in Crisis: Haiti and the Church

Map Image: WikiCommons, CC-BY-SA 2.0.

HAITI – The International Lutheran Council (ILC) is encouraging its members to pray for Haiti, which is facing severe famine, rampant gang violence, and general instability. The United Nations recently warned that, without intervention, more than 100,000 children are at risk of death from starvation.

“The people of Haiti need our prayers,” said Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, General Secretary of the International Lutheran Council. “May God grant peace and healing to this troubled nation. And may He equip the church in Haiti to share the comfort of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed with their neighbours throughout this crisis.”

The ILC has one member church in Haiti: the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti (Église Évangélique Luthérienne d’Haiti – ELCH). In the following report, Rev. Walter Clercius—a pastor of the ELCH—reports on the situation, and explains how the church is holding out hope and practical care amidst so much tragedy.


Brothers and sisters in Christ,

Peace to you from Him who overcame death and the grave and gives that victory to us! I thank God for the privilege He gives me today to write to you.

Today, our country faces many difficulties. Haiti ranks 170th of 189 countries on the 2020 Human Development Index. Out of a population of roughly 11.5 million, more than 1.5 million are highly food insecure, and approximately 4.5 million people did not have enough to eat last year. Today, more than half of the population does not have enough to eat, and more than 25 percent of children are chronically malnourished. Food security continues to deteriorate in rural areas, with the situation for many declining from a crisis situation to a full emergency. Hunger has reached catastrophic levels.

The situation is exacerbated by Haiti’s political crisis, which has continued to worsen following the assassination of our president in 2021. There are now more than 200 gangs operating in Haiti (with half of them in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, according to reports). These gangs have grown dramatically in the past five years. Many of those involved are youths—some as young as 13 years old. The gangs have raped many girls. They kidnap people. They burn and they kill.

Gangs have taken control of the private houses of hundreds of thousands of people in Port-au-Prince. People cannot travel safely in private vehicles from the west to the south or from the west to the north in Haiti. With public transportation, drivers are forced to pay the gangs as if passing through toll booths.

Most of those involved in the gangs are not from Port-au-Prince. They come from other departments in Haiti. Sadly, they are often children recruited from other departments where schools are not operating.

Given this situation, it is not surprising that the economic situation in Haiti is bleak. People from rural areas cannot send their products to sell in Port-au-Prince. Nor are there many jobs. Inflation has risen to 49.3 per cent. Universities and schools have been forced to terminate their contracts with employees. Businesses are likewise closed and have sent their employees home; they cannot pay them. Many children in Port-au-Prince cannot go to school. There are riots. The price of gas has more than doubled; and when the price of gas goes up, the price of everything goes up—all while the salaries of those still employed stagnate. Even teachers become poor; they cannot afford to eat.

Facing such hardship, many people—especially youth and professionals—continue to leave the country. They go to the United States, Canada, France, Brazil, Chili, or the Dominican Republic. Some cross borders illegally. But faced with hunger, riots, misery, insecurity, and disease, many Haitians do not know what else to do.

But there is hope in Haiti. Haiti has a rich history. It was the first free black republic in the world—the mother of freedom. Our present situation is so sad. But there are many Haitians who love Haiti and are working hard to see change the country and make a difference in the lives of other Haitians. There are many Haitians who are educated. Many Haitians who are Christians. There are many children who are being raised with faith in Christ, and learning ethics, morality, and civility.

I believe that the Gospel and education can contribute to change in our country for a better future. We must continue to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to educate our children. With such a foundation, they will become good citizens for Haiti. They will contribute to change in our country. They will contribute to bring peace in the world.

In my region of the Central-Plateau, people also face economic problems but we are not experiencing the same insecurity. Praise God, our children in the Central-Plateau can still go safely to school. With access to education, they will not be so easily drawn into the gang violence and modern slavery which has overtaken Port-au-Prince. They will become professionals, pastors, teachers, engineers, nurses. Our children receive formation in morality, ethics, and civility. We continue to preach the Gospel of Him who overcame death and the grave.

Today, I am working in twelve Lutheran churches/schools and eight preaching stations and affiliated churches in the Central-Plateau. In this region, we count around 7,000 Lutherans: 2,000 adults and 5,000 students. In the future, we are praying that number might grow to 12,000 Lutherans in our churches and schools in the Central-Plateau. This will require at least 20 Lutheran ordained pastors for 12 churches and preaching stations. That’s why we are currently training more than 70 seminarians through online classes. Our professors are Haitian, American, Canadian, and French.

I have already noted that we are educating more than five thousand children in the Central-Plateau. An important aspect of this work is our feeding program through Trinity Hope. Through this program, we provide regular meals for students, many of whom do not receive any food at home because their parents are out of work. We are grateful for the assistance of fellow Christians in the United States who are supporting this program and making a difference in the lives of thousands of families.

After the proclamation of the Gospel, education plays the most important role in the healthy development of our children. Boys involved in school have a significantly reduced chance of being drawn into a gang. Girls involved in school have a reduced chance of becoming pregnant while still young teenagers.

Like you, we in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti value truth, grace, unity, vocation, sanctity of life, trust, and relationships. Thank you for your continued prayers. May God continue to bless you.

In Christ,

Rev. Walta Clercius
First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Laotchikit (Central-Plateau, Haiti)
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti


Ten years for the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese in Norway

DELSIN Bishop Thor Henrik With preaches during a tenth anniversary commemorative service in Storsteinnes.

NORWAY – On the weekend of April 21-23, the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese in Norway (Det Evangelisk-Lutherske Stift i Norge – DELSIN) marked ten years since its formal organization as an independent diocese

Bishop Emeritus Roland Gustafsson of the Mission Province of Sweden speaks during an anniversary celebration.

A series of commemorative events were marked in Balsfjord, Nordkjosbotn, and Storsteinnes, and featured a Bible study, anniversary celebration, and commemorative service. Bishop Emeritus Roland Gustafsson (Mission Province in Sweden) gave an address at the anniversary celebration, while DELSIN Bishop Thor Henrik With led the Bible study and preached for the commemorative service. The anniversary celebration also featured music as well as a tribute on the late Bishop Børre Knudsen’s service in Norway.

The Evangelical Lutheran Diocese in Norway initially began as a confessional movement within the national Church of Norway, eventually becoming a “Church of Norway in Exile” under Bishop Knudsen. Bishop With succeeded Bishop Knudsen in 2012, and DELSIN formally organized as an independent diocese in 2013.

Today the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese in Norway enjoys communion with the Mission Province of Sweden and the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese in Finland through the Communion of Nordic Lutheran Dioceses. It has also entered into fellowship with the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (SELK) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England (ELCE).

In 2018, the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese in Norway was accepted into membership in the International Lutheran Council (ILC), a global association of Lutheran church bodies dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the basis of a shared-commitment to the authority of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.


ILC urges prayer for Sudan

SUDAN – The International Lutheran Council (ILC) is urging prayer for Sudan after armed conflict broke out in the country earlier this month. As of this publication, the World Health Organization reports more than 450 dead with more than 4,000 injured (with the actual number likely to be higher).

“Our hearts grieve for those caught in the midst of this terrible crisis,” said ILC General Secretary Timothy Quill. “We encourage our member churches around the world to name the Sudanese people in prayer, beseeching God for the reestablishment of peace and safety.”

In addition to the threat of violence, the turmoil has also led to critical shortages of necessities like food, water, fuel, and medicine. Even before the current conflict began, the people of Sudan faced serious hardship, with more than a third of the population considered to be in need of aid. The country was also home to more than one million refugees.

The International Lutheran Council has two observer member churches with ties to the nation of Sudan: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Sudan and Sudan (ELCSS/S) which has congregations in Sudan, and the South Sudan Evangelical Lutheran Church (SSELC).

“Although our headquarters is in Yambio, South Sudan, we also have churches within Khartoum, Sudan where there is serious fighting at the moment,” explained ELCSS/S Bishop Peter Anibati Abia. “Many people have been displaced or wounded, and others killed. Many are also stuck in their houses with no food, water, or electricity, and are in need of humanitarian support.”

“Please commend these suffering brothers and sisters into the Lord’s care as they endure the pains of this senseless war,” the bishop continued. “Pray for peace to prevail in Sudan. Pray for the bereaved, the homeless, the wounded, and the hungry. And pray also for the ELCSS/S as she ministers to these people.”

The International Lutheran Council is a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies dedicated to the authority of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.


ILC sponsors capacity building conference in Tanzania

Participants listen to a speaker during the ELCT-LTD’s capacity building conference in Sumbawanga, Tanzania.

TANZANIA – The International Lutheran Council (ILC) sponsored a capacity building conference for pastors, evangelists, and teachers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania’s Lake Tanganyika Diocese (ELCT-LTD) in Sumbawanga from March 7-10, 2023.

The conference arose out of an official request from the diocese and Bishop Ambele Mwaipopo.

“It was a joy to visit Bishop Mwaipopo and his diocese in Tanzania,” said ILC General Secretary Timothy Quill. “Events like these play a significant role in ensuring strong Lutheran formation for pastors and church workers, and we were pleased to be able to respond to the ELCT-LTD’s request for assistance in this area.”

The conference brought together nearly 90 people, including more than 40 pastors and nine evangelists, as well as theologians, members of the diocese’s executive council, and staff from the diocesan headquarters. Guest lecturers for the event included ILC General Secretary Quill; Rev. Dr. Detlev Schulz (Concordia Theological Seminary – Fort Wayne, Indiana); and Rev. Peter Brock (First Vice President of the Indiana District of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod).

Participants at a capacity building conference in Tanzania’s Lake Tanganyika Diocese. ILC General Secretary Timothy Quill sits in front (second from left) with ELCT-LTD Bishop Ambele Mwaipopo (centre).

The Lake Tanganyika Diocese has a great focus on mission. Last year, it opened 18 new preaching points, eleven of which have since grown into parishes or congregations. Additional preaching points continue to be opened every year.

To assist with this growth, the diocese is in the process of opening a new school, which will initially train evangelists and eventually grow to offer pastoral training. Indeed, the diocese sees pastoral training as its greatest need. The school will also educate lay people in vocations and trades, including as teachers and deaconesses.

The Lake Tanganyika Diocese holds membership in the International Lutheran Council as a recognized organization. The ILC has previously supported theological conferences in the ELCT-LTD’s sister diocese, the South East of Lake Victoria Diocese.

The International Lutheran Council is a global association of Lutheran church bodies, dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the basis of a shared-commitment to the authority of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.


He is Here for He has Risen

The Two Marys by Nikolai Koshelev (c. late 19th century).

by Timothy Quill

“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.” – Matthew 28:1-2

The angel of the Lord sat on the stone. What a thought-provoking sight: an angel whose appearance was as lightning and with clothes as white as snow, sitting there on a large stone. With this simple action the angel draws our eyes to the stone. The large stone which had been used to seal the lifeless body of Jesus in his grave.

It is a custom in some countries today for the family of the deceased to leave the room when the lid on the casket is closed for the last time and to leave the cemetery before the casket is lowered and buried in the ground. Emotionally it is just too much to take—so we are told. Once the lid is closed, the loved one will not be seen again in this lifetime. The closed lid removes the loved one from sight but not from memory. So, the bereaved continue to visit the graves of those they love—the heart aches, tears fall, prayers ascend, and flowers are placed next to grave stones.

So it was also with Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. They went to see the tomb. They brought spices to anoint the dead body of our Lord. They had been with Jesus and experienced His kindness, love, and mercy. Love drew them to His tomb. They arrived at the tomb at dawn on Sunday but to their surprise they saw that the rock was rolled back and upon it sat an angel. In Jesus’ day, preachers sat down when they preached. Jesus sat to preach in the synagogue in Nazareth and in the boat in the sea of Galilee. Now the angel sits upon the stone to preach the first Easter sermon and the women listened. “The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay’” (Matthew 28:5-6).

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay.”

With these words faith is born and despair gives way to joy. The resurrection changes everything. Today, whenever and wherever Christians join Mary Magdalene and the other Mary in their trek to the cemetery—when we stare into the dreadful dark pit which slowly swallows up the body of our friends and loved ones—we believe and confess with Mary Magdalene and St. Paul, “Death is swallowed up in victory” “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”(1 Corinthians 15:54, 57). We believe and take comfort in Jesus’ own words: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die”(John 11:25).Our Lord’s words comfort us in our grief, and they also prepare us for a blessed death.

Christian funerals are celebrations of the resurrection and of Holy Baptism. St. Paul tells us: “All of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death… If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection”(Romans 6:3, 5). At the time of Christ, the Romans buried people at night because they believed that a funeral was an evil omen. Christians on the other hand chose the daytime. They processed to the grave wearing white garments. They carried palm leaves, together with lights, and incense was burned—all to express the idea of triumph over death. They sang psalms of hope and alleluias of victory.

And what do Christians do at funerals today? We sing.

Christ is arisen from the grave’s dark prison.
So let our joy rise full and free;
Christ our comfort true will be. Alleluia! (LSB 459)

He who was freed from the grave’s dark prison, He who no stone could keep captive, sets us free! So, we sing.

In the Garden of Eden, Eve listened. She listened to the words preached by the evil angel. She believed what he said, ate and shared the deadly fruit with Adam. And death entered paradise. The first sermon preached after Jesus’ resurrection was also preached by an angel. Mary Magdalene listened and believed what he said, and shared the life-giving news of Jesus’ resurrection with the disciples. The two Marys left the tomb, their hearts filled with fear and great joy. While on their way, they were met by the risen Lord Jesus who greeted them. First, they believe, then they see, fall before Jesus, take hold of His feet and worship Him.

This sequence of events is repeated every Sunday when the Church gathers to worship Jesus. First the Word is preached, then we hear the greeting from the risen Lord, and then His body and blood are touched and worshipped. First is the Word—the sermon—for it is the Gospel of Christ that creates and sustains faith. The ears hear, the heart believes and the lips confess. We live by faith not sight. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

First the Word is preached, then we hear the greeting from the risen Lord, and then His body and blood are touched and worshipped.

As it was with Mary Magdalene on that first Easter morning, so it remains today in the Divine Service. After the consecration the pastor elevates the body and blood for all to see and says, “The peace of the Lord be with you always.” In one sense the pastor is saying, “He is here for He has risen.” After the greeting the Bride of Christ not only takes hold of the feet of our Lord, but also His hands and His side—in fact, Jesus embraces us. He fills us with His sacred body and blood. In the breaking of bread our eyes are opened to see the risen Lord Jesus Christ before us. The Proper Preface for Easter Day says it beautifully:

“It is truly good, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks… And most especially are we bound to praise You on this day for the glorious resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, the very Paschal Lamb, who was sacrificed for us and bore the sins of the world. By His dying He has destroyed death, and by His rising again He has restored to us everlasting life. Therefore, with Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John, and with all the witnesses of the resurrection, with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name.”

We join with Mary Magdalene when we gather at the grave side with fellow baptized Christians to bury our dead, to confess the resurrection, and to sing hymns. On Easter we gather with angels and archangels—including the angel who sat on the tombstone and preached the good news of our Lord’s resurrection. And we join with Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John, and all the witness of the resurrection who saw Jesus yet like us were saved by grace through faith, not sight. We join with them when we give thanks and when we sing the heavenly Sanctus in the presence of our risen Lord at Holy Communion. And we join with seven million Lutheran brothers and sisters in the International Lutheran Council from sixty countries around the world who joyfully sing Easter hymns on Easter morning and shout, “He is risen indeed!”

Joseph and Mary went up from Galilee to Bethlehem (Luke 2:4). On Easter morning, Jesus told the two Marys: “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brother to go to Galilee, and there they will see me” (Matthew 28:10). To Galilee—the Galilee of the Gentiles. Galilee where Matthew’s Gospel ends with Jesus sending His disciples to all nations by preaching and baptizing. On Easter morning all over the world, on the dawn of the first day of the week, Christians open their sleepy eyes and smile as they realize: “Today is Easter Sunday—the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus.”

And the words of the angel to the two Marys echo through our ears: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen.”


Rev. Dr. Timothy C.J. Quill is General Secretary of the International Lutheran Council.

Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt, former ILC Chairman, honoured with Festschrift

SELK Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt (Photo: The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod/Erik M. Lunsford. Used with permission.)

GERMANY – The International Lutheran Council’s (ILC) former Chairman, Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (Selbständige Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche – SELK), has been honoured with a Festschrift to mark his 60th birthday in 2022.

The Festschrift was formally presented to Bishop Voigt on December 19, 2022, during which time the book’s dedicatory hymn—”I Will Be Present, Says the Lord,” written by Rev. Kurt Reinhardt of Canada and sung to the Luther melody “Von Himmel hoch”—was also premiered. Rev. Dr. Burkhard Neumann of the Johann Adam Möhler Institute for Ecumenism—one of the contributors to the volume—served as keynote speaker for the event.

The Festschrift features contributions in English and German, and is entitled Dienst an der Kirche durch Wort und Sakrament: Theologie und Kirche in konfessioneller und ökumenischer Verantwortung [“Service to the Church Through Word and Sacrament: Theology and Church in Confessional and Ecumenical Responsibility”]. Serving as editors for the book were Werner Klän and Michael Schätzel.

“This book is a tribute to Bishop Dr. Hans-Jörg Voigt on the occasion of his 60th birthday,” the editors write in the book’s foreword. “The honouree deserves recognition and thanks for his many kinds of service in the church and her congregations, especially for acting (and reacting) in a worship-centered manner, for his thoughtful commitment to the value of confessional Lutheran positions–within the church and ecumenically–, and for his incisive statements and expressions of a decidedly Lutheran way to practise the faith.”

Dienst an der Kirche durch Wort und Sakrament.

“When preparing this commemorative publication, it was important for us to do justice to the diverse tasks—and gifts—of Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt,” the foreword also notes. Reflecting the diversity of Bishop Voigt’s impact, the contributors to the book come from a wide variety of nations and church backgrounds: from within the SELK in Germany; internationally, from within the International Lutheran Council; and from other church traditions who have come to know Bishop Voigt through his confessional ecumenical work.

The essays themselves are grouped into six categories: the Word of God; the Ministry of the Church; the History of the Church; Church Teaching; Church Practice; and the Relationship between Church and Society. Also featured in the book are two pieces of writing in German by Bishop Voigt himself: a 2011 pastoral letter entitled “Discovering Marriage and Family as Gifts of God” and a 2015 lecture entitled “Bringing the Reformation to the World: The Means of Grace” (these texts are available in English online here and here).

Among the book’s contributors are three current and former members of the ILC’s Board of Directors who worked alongside Bishop Voigt during his tenure as Chairman. These include: FELSISA Bishop Dieter Reinstorf of South Africa (“The Corona Pandemic and Jesus’ Parable of the Sower: A Personal Tribute”); LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison of the United States (“Scripture and Office in Sasse’s Argument on Women’s Ordination”); and LCC Past President Robert Bugbee of Canada (“The ILC: Coming of Age”).

Other contributions in the volume are by: Jorg Christian Salzmann; Thomas M. Winger; Gerson L. Linden; Achim Behrens; Karl Hinrich Manzke; John R. Stephenson; Mareile Lasogga; Horst Gorski; Jobst Schöne; Norbert Denecke; Robert Kolb; Armin Wenz; Werner Klän; Christian Neddens; Friedrich Hauschildt; John W. Kleinig; Burkhard Neumann; Martin Evang; Christoph Barnbrock; Jürgen Kampmann; Michael Schätzel; Andrea Grünhagen; Diethardt Roth; and Stefan Süß.

The book is available from Edition Ruprecht.


ILC board gathers in Illinois, meets with local Lutherans

ILC board members take part in a choral evening prayer service at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Wheaton, Illinois.

USA – In early February 2023, the International Lutheran Council held board meetings in Chicago and Wheaton, Illinois, during which time board members also spoke at a number of events in the area.

Board meetings took place February 3-4, with members discussing new membership applications; next steps in ecumenical relations with the Roman Catholic Church; and planning for the World Seminaries Conference (tentatively scheduled for June 2024 in Argentina). The board also began looking forward to plans for the 2025 World Conference.

ILC Chairman Juhana Pohjola speaks to Chicago-area Lutherans during a fireside talk at St. John’s Lutheran in Wheaton, Illinois.

The first day of meetings were held on the campus of Concordia University Chicago (CUC), where board members joined the university community for chapel. During a lunch with students and faculty, ILC Chairman Juhana Pohjola, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, presented on the situation his own church faces in Finland, as well as on the work of the International Lutheran Council. Following his talk, other members of the board also spoke to the students and faculty.

The second day of meetings took place at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Wheaton, Illinois. Later in the day, St. John’s also hosted a “fireside talk” with ILC Chairman Pohjola, with members of numerous Chicago-area Lutheran churches in attendance. The evening culminated in a choral evening prayer service entitled “For the Future of the Church and the Life of the World.” Rev. Dr. Scott A. Bruzek of St. John’s served as liturgist and Rev. Dr. Patrick Bayens of CUC preached. Mr. Peter Sovitzky of St. John’s served as cantor. The ILC’s General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Timothy C.J. Quill, and Chairman Pohjola served as lectors. Members of the ILC board were also vested for the service.

Archbishop Joseph Omolo (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya) joins a local Illinois congregation (St. Peter Lutheran Church in Arlington Heights) for Sunday morning service.

On Sunday, February 5, those ILC board members and officers who were present attended worship at various Lutheran churches in the Chicago area, where they preached during Divine Service. In total, eleven congregations welcomed ILC board members and other representatives, with the preachers hailing from Canada, Finland, Ghana, Kenya, Paraguay, the Philippines, and the United States. Members also had the opportunity to speak with congregants about the work of the International Lutheran Council as well as their own individual church bodies.

“A key aspect of this round of meetings was engagement with the local church,” said ILC General Secretary Quill. “It was a privilege to welcome ILC members from across the globe to visit with local congregants and to share the work their church bodies are doing in service of the Gospel both individually and collectively as part of the International Lutheran Council.”

Chairman Juhana Pohjola and other ILC representatives greet congregants after a choral evening service at St. John’s Lutheran (Wheaton, Illinois.)

“The ILC is more than just leaders of our member church bodies,” Dr. Quill noted. “The work we do depends on the prayerful support of individual church members across the globe. It was wonderful to witness that partnership in action during our visits with local congregations and the Concordia University Chicago community in Illinois.”

The International Lutheran Council is a global association of Lutheran church bodies, dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the basis of a shared-commitment to the authority of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.


New District Bishop Elected for SELVD in Tanzania

ELCT-SEVLD Bishop Elect Yohana Ernest Nzelu.

TANZANIA – The South East of Lake Victoria Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT-SELVD) held its General Assembly from December 9-10, 2022 at its Tumani Bariadi congregation, during which time the district elected a new bishop: Rev. Dr. Yohana Ernest Nzelu

“I congratulate Dr. Nzelu on his election as bishop,” said Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, General Secretary of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). “It’s been a joy to see our relationship with the ELCT-SELVD grow over the past number of years, and we look forward to continued cooperation in the future. May God bless Dr. Nzelu with every good thing in Christ as he begins this new work on behalf of the South of East Victoria Diocese.”

Bishop Elect Nzelu was elected to a ten-year term. Prior to the election, he served the ELCT-SELVD as Assistant to the Bishop. Ordained fifteen years ago, he also served as a District Pastor for eight years and as headmaster at Mwadui Lutheran Secondary School for ten years. He earned his doctorate from Concordia Theological Seminary (Fort Wayne, Indiana) in 2021.

ELCT-SEVLD Bishop Elect Yohana Ernest Nzelu.

Bishop Elect Nzelu succeeds Bishop Emmanuel Joseph Makala, who was the ELCT-SELVD’s first bishop.

Also elected was Rev. Dr. Daniel Henry Mono, who will serve as Assistant to the Bishop for a four-year term. Dr. Mono previously served as District Pastor at Kahama.

“I am so excited about having them both on board,” noted outgoing ELCT-SELVD Bishop Makala. “The new leadership have years of experience and have clearly demonstrated their essential skills in leadership positions.”

The consecration of Bishop Elect Nzelu and the installation of Dr. Mono as Assistant to the Bishop will take place on April 30, 2023 at Ebenezer Cathedral in Shinyanga.

The ELCT-SELVD holds membership as a recognized organization in the International Lutheran Council, a global association of confessional Lutheran churches.


Spanish Lutheran bishop passes on to glory

Former IELE Bishop José Luis de Miguel.

SPAIN – On February 14, 2023, Rev. José Luis de Miguel of the Spanish Evangelical Lutheran Church (Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Española – IELE) entered into glory. Rev. Luis was the first Spanish-born pastor to lead the Lutheran church in Spain—a role in which he served until shortly before his death when his health declined due to cancer.

Bishop Luis studied for the pastoral ministry at Seminario Concordia El Reformador in the Dominican Republic. He was ordained in 2017, after having first been made a deacon in 2012. In 2020, he was named the Spanish church’s first bishop, although the consecration could not take place until 2021 because of the pandemic.

In addition to serving the church, Rev. Luis also worked for the Spanish Association Against Cancer.

After Bishop Luis became ill, the Spanish church held an extraordinary convention on February 4, 2023 to elect a new leader. Rev. Felipe Lobo Arranz was selected to guide the church as president during this time of transition.

In a video address to the church following Bishop Luis’ death, President Lobo noted that the news had been very hard for the church. Expressing his condolences to the former bishop’s wife and children, President Lobo went on to say that the whole church “remembers him fondly, knowing that we will soon see each other again—that soon we will all be together with Christ, where [Bishop Luis] is right now, watching Him and contemplating Him.”

IELE President Felipe Lobo Arranz.

President Lobo encouraged members of the church to take comfort in the knowledge of the resurrection, pointing them to the promises of God in 1 Corinthians 15. “The reality of life is certain; the reality of death is certain,” he said. “But just as true is the reality of resurrection.”

Those who know Christ, President Lobo said, can look forward in hope to eternal life with Christ: “Remember that death has been defeated by Jesus Christ on the cross of calvary.”

The IELE grew out of mission efforts of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina (IELA), which was later supplemented by missionary support from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). Today the Spanish church has four congregations and, following the death of Bishop Luis, three Spanish-born pastors, as well as the support of one LCMS missionary.


Lutherans in Australia and New Zealand decline women’s ordination but raise future possibility of “one church, two practices”

AUSTRALIA – From February 9-12, 2023, the Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ) gathered in Melbourne, Australia for in-person sessions of its General Synod, during which time the church again declined a resolution calling for the ordination of women. However, a day later the church accepted a separate proposal to study the possibility of creating “one church with two different practices of ordination.”

The gathering in Melbourne was the continuation of a General Synod which first began in October 2021, but in-person sessions were delayed until this year because of the pandemic.

The first resolution was debated on February 10, and saw the church vote on whether to alter church teaching to allow the ordination of women. The vote required a 2/3 majority, which it failed to achieve. In total, 59 percent of delegates voted in favour of the change (203 for; 136 against; 3 abstentions).

The LCANZ’s Bishop Paul Smith encouraged continued “prayer for the Lord’s guiding hand on His church” as it continues to wrestle with this subject.

This was the church’s fifth vote on women’s ordination since 2000, with all failing to receive the required 2/3 majority to change church teaching (votes took place in 2000, 2006, 2015, 2018, and now in 2023). In a release, the LCANZ notes that the practice of ordaining men only was included in the Theses of Agreement which the LCANZ’s two predecessor church bodies accepted in 1966 as part of their decision to unite.

Following the February 10 vote on women’s ordination, the LCANZ adopted a separate proposal on February 11, which calls on the synod to examine the possibility of creating “one church with two different practices of ordination.” Because this proposal was to examine the possibility, rather than to change church teaching at this time, it required only a simple majority, which it achieved (250 for; 89 against; 1 abstention).

“Synod directed that work be done to outline how one church with two ordination practices might function,” notes the LCANZ in another release, “such as one or more existing LCANZ districts becoming districts that teach and practice the ordination of both women and men to the office of the public ministry, or by establishing a non-geographical LCANZ ‘district’ that does so.” The results of that examination are to be presented for discussion at the church’s 2024 General Pastors Conference in the lead up to the next convention of General Synod.

“We are grateful that the LCANZ has again declined the practice of women’s ordination, which is contrary to Holy Scripture and historic Christian teaching,” said Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, General Secretary of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). “However, the proposal to examine the possibility of creating ‘one church with two different practices of ordination’ is disconcerting and will sow the seed of confusion and discord. We pray that the church’s discussion will ultimately conclude in favour of one church with one practice of ordination—namely, the biblical position that ordination is only open to men.”

The Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand is an associate member of the International Lutheran Council, a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies. In keeping with the teachings of Scripture, the ILC does not accept the ordination of women to the pastoral ministry, encouraging women to serve the church in other ways.


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