CONGO – The Church of the Faithful Confessing Lutherans in Congo (Église de Fidèles Confessants Lutheriens au Congo – EFCLCO) held special events on January 8, 2023 to celebrate the church’s recent acceptance into the International Lutheran Council (ILC) as well as the church’s official opening of a theological training centre.
The day began with a Divine Service marking Epiphany, with EFCLCO Bishop Ilunga Kendi Evariste preaching on Matthew 4:18-25. The bishop proclaimed that Christ, the Light of the World, had come to those in the city of Kananga, Congo, though they had long been in darkness and sin. Following the example of the people of Naphtali and Zebulon, the Kanangese have also been invited to praise God for the gift of His Son to the world, he said. That God had given His Son to the world is one thing, Bishop Ilunga noted, but that Kanangese people themselves should receive this gift in faith is another. Motivated by the Holy Spirit at work in the Word, the Kanangese can welcome the light, confessing that even their faith is not their own doing.
The service also saw the baptism of two children by Rev. Serge Bamba Kapita and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, with Bishop Ilunga presiding.
On this day, the EFCLCO also announced to members its acceptance into the International Lutheran Council as an observer member. The announcement garnered great applause and celebration. Bishop Ilunga went on to explain to members and visiting church leaders what the ILC stands for and its mission to equip confessional Lutherans across the world to faithfully proclaim the Word of God and the Good News of Jesus Christ.
The day also saw the official opening of the church’s Lutheran Centre of Theological Education and Apprentice (CLET&A/Kananga) in Kananga—an event which reinforced the Gospel text for the day, which features Jesus calling the disciples Peter, Andrew, James, and John to be His followers and fishers of men.
The centre is now operational, providing a Theological Education by Extension program based on educational materials from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). The operating model is mobile in nature, allowing the program to move from one congregation to another.
At the same time, the EFCLCO’s work in translating Lutheran resources such as the Lutheran Confessions, the catechisms, a hymnal, and liturgies is continuing well. In this respect, the church expresses gratitude to the Lutheran Heritage Foundation for its support. The teaching of modern languages such as English as French to prepare students for further theological education is also planned.
“We pray and invite others to pray with us that God will make it possible to grow this centre into a formal Bible school,” said Bishop Ilunga, “and ultimately into a permanent theological seminary for the formal training of pastors in both EFCLCO and other churches in Congo. May God use it to empower leaders in various ways to fit and serve the needs of the church.”