LCMS visits Ghana and Madagascar

ELCG Bishop Paul Kofi Fynn speaks at the dedication service of the Lutheran Theological Seminary (Ghana).
ELCG Bishop Paul Kofi Fynn speaks at the dedication service of the Lutheran Theological Seminary (Ghana).

GHANA and MADAGASCAR – Following visits with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya and the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s (LCMS) President Matthew C. Harrison continued his international tour in early February with visits to Ghana and Madagascar.

On February 2, President Harrison and the LCMS delegation visited the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana (ELCG) to celebrate the dedication of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Greater Accra. President Harrison and ELCG Bishop Paul Kofi Fynn lead the ceremony together, with President Harrison giving the sermon. Approximately 650 people gathered for the dedication service.

The LCMS’ Concordia Theological Seminary (Fort Wayne, Indiana) assisted the ELCG in setting up and equipping their new seminary’s library through the Chemnitz Library Initiative—a joint project between Concordia Theological Seminary and the International Lutheran Council. Some funds for the seminary’s construction were provided by the LCMS’ Office of International Mission. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana was established in 1958 by missionaries from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Today its membership stands at approximately 29,000 members.

LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison addresses the Malagasy convention while Bishop David Rakotonirina translates.
LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison addresses the Malagasy convention while Bishop David Rakotonirina translates.

On February 5, LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison was invited to address the opening of the Malagasy Lutheran Church (Fiangonano Loterana Malagasy) synodical convention near Antsirabe, Madagascar. On February 6, the LCMS delegation then visited the Antsirabe school for the blind. The school was recently the recipient of an LCMS emergency grant after Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations and ILC Executive Assistant, learned in October 2013 that the children were malnourished due to budget cuts from European partners.

During meetings between the Malagasy Lutheran Church’s leaders and LCMS representatives, 17 Malagasy bishops asked for LCMS assistance in helping their churches affording roofs. Many Malagasy churches can afford local building materials (like red bricks) to construct their buildings, but have difficulty obtaining tin roofs to keep members dry during the rainy season. The LCMS is currently awaiting a formal proposal from the Malagasy Lutheran Church to see how the LCMS might assist. The Malagasy Lutheran Church has approximately 4 million members and is a member of the Lutheran World Federation.

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LCMS delegation visits Kenya

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

KENYA – On January 22, 2014, President Matthew Harrison and a delegation from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) visited the headquarters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya (ELCK). The two churches, which are in altar and pulpit fellowship and are both members of the International Lutheran Council (ILC), were meeting to celebrate a decade of work together. Ten years earlier, in December 2003, President Harrison (Executive Director of LCMS World Relief and Human Care at the time) visited Kenya in December 2003 at the request of then Bishop (now Archbishop) Walter Obare.

A choir performs at the celebration of a decade of joint ministry between the ELCK and the LCMS.

The LCMS delegation—which included Rev. Dr. Al Collver (LCMS Director for Church Relations and ILC Executive Assistant) and Rev. Shauen Trump (LCMS Missionary in Kenya) in addition to President Harrison—spent the day with Archbishop Obare and the bishops and bishops elect from each of the ELCK’s dioceses. Celebration of the past ten years and planning for the future occupied the day.

Following the event, President Harrison and Dr. Collver departed Kenya for Ethiopia where they will be meeting with representatives of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus.

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