ILC supports Theological Symposium in Tanzania

Participants in the ELCT-SELVD’s 2019 Theological Symposium.

TANZANIA – From December 4-7, 2019, the International Lutheran Council (ILC) together with Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana (CTSFW) sponsored a theological symposium at Agape Lutheran Church in Kahama, Tanzania. Agape is a congregation of the South East of Lake Victoria Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT-SELVD).

ELCT-SELVD Bishop Emmanuel Makala answers a question during the theological symposium.

In his opening sermon, ELCT-SELVD Bishop Emmanuel Makala encouraged the 142 participants (pastors, deaconesses, members of the Executive committee, and local lay people) with a reflection on Philippians 1:27. “Joy is found in the concordia of doctrine alone, even under persecutions,” he said. “Paul and his church were surrounded by heretics, just like we are. We need to be the light of the world. Otherwise, we would become like other preachers.”

“Our symposium has only one purpose—that is, we want to be strengthened by the Word of God, growing together stronger in confession,” he continued. “We are not here for political interest, but for faith. Our diocese in its constitution declares that everything is to be measured by the Word of God. Bishop and pastors can make mistakes but not the Word of God. The Word is always right. We are also given the Book of Concord. Before you say anything of your own, consult with the Lutheran Confessions.”

“The Lutheran Confessions connect us with other Lutherans worldwide,” the bishop continued, “as well as with those who went before us, including Luther, Paul, and the Apostles.”

Theological Education in Tanzania

CTSFW has been assisting the diocese at the request of Bishop Makala in the areas of pastoral and diaconal formation as well as continuing education since 2013—the very beginning of the new diocese. Three cohorts of pastoral and deaconess students have already graduated, and the number of pastors has increased from 15 to about 80.

The annual theological symposium, which held its first conference in 2016, plays a significant role in the life of the diocese. As new pastors are ordained and others join the diocese from other areas in Tanzania and Kenya, it is important for the ministerium to foster a common confession. For laity and lay leaders, a symposium is a necessary place where questions and concerns about Christian faith and life are discussed and answered. The ILC’s sponsorship of the annual symposium directly contributes to the maturing of this young confessional Lutheran diocese in Tanzania. The South East of Lake Victoria Diocese was accepted as a Recognized Organization observer member of the International Lutheran Council in 2019.

Dr. Daniel Mono translates into Swahili as Dr. Naomichi Masaki lectures on the the Scriptural basis of the Lutheran Confessions, and contemporary issues like the prosperity Gospel and the ordination of women.

The presenter for the 2019 symposium was Rev. Dr. Naomichi Masaki, professor of systematic theology of CTSFW and director of the ILC’s Lutheran Leadership Development Program. He was invited to speak on three topics important to the diocese: (1) The Authority of the Bible in the Eyes of the Book of Concord; (2) The Prosperity Gospel vs Theology of the Cross; and (3) The Ordination of Women?

Several participating pastors who were trained at other theological institutions expressed thankfulness for Dr. Masaki and CTSFW, saying they “have a lot to teach the world about the truth of the Word of God” and that they appropriately stress the authority of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, especially “when compared to other Lutheran churches.” One lay member of the Executive Committee shared that, as a result of the symposium, they now believe the ELCT had made a mistake in adopting women’s ordination.

Widespread interest in the presentations led the three-day symposium to be extended an extra half day for more question and answer sessions. At the close of the symposium, the chairman of the Executive Committee summarized the consensus of the participants, suggesting that the symposium be extended to meet twice a year and that it be extended to five days instead of three. Plans for future symposia hope to see two topics discussed at each event going forward: first, a study of the texts in the Book of Concord one by one, and second, a discussion of other biblical and contemporary issues.

Participants in the theological symposium engaged in lively dialogue—as well as a little fun!

Bishop Makala and the diocese expressed thanks to the ILC and CTSFW for sponsoring the theological symposium. “We had strong discussions among the participants, he wrote. “Lay people were excited and asked many questions, especially concerning women’s ordination. Participants expressed joy and eagerness to have more symposia and more time in each. Participants learned a lot from our facilitator Dr. Naomichi Masaki. We acknowledge that faith and knowledge have been enriched among the participants.”

“It is always such a great joy and privilege to serve in the SELVD, alongside Bishop Makala, Rev. Nzelu, and Dr. Mono,” said Dr. Masaki. “It is always nice to see my former students whenever I am back in Tanzania. But it is also rewarding to see how they have grown in their confession and matured in the ministry. Their ministry in SELVD is not easy. They daily face many challenges. Yet, they remain faithful to the Lord under the able leadership of Bishop Makala and his team.”

“I cherish the time I am able to spend with these men and women, both pastors and deaconesses, as well as lay people and lay leaders,” Dr. Masaki continued. “It was also a delight to meet new pastors whom I had not met before. The fruit of the Gospel here is so obvious. Indeed, the SELVD is a light in world Lutheranism. It’s a joy to help each other as brothers and sisters, and to rejoice together as Lutherans!”

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Training the next generation of Confessional Lutheran leaders: Lutheran Leadership Development Program ready to launch

WORLD – As a new year gets underway, the International Lutheran Council and its partners are preparing for the first class of the Lutheran Leadership Development Program (LLDP).

This two-year certificate program aims to provide Lutheran church bodies around the world an opportunity to develop leaders who are competent in both solid confessional Lutheran theology as well as practical skills in leadership and resource management. The LLDP is a project of the International Lutheran Council working in cooperation with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, Concordia Publishing House (CPH), and Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana (CTSFW).

“We’re are grateful for our partners in this project, and are excited to work with them in raising up a new generation of global Confessional Lutheran leaders,” said Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, General Secretary of the ILC. “We look forward to welcoming the LLDP’s first class of students in just a few weeks, and pray for God’s blessings on their studies.”

The first class of students in the LLDP will gather for instruction at the Old Latin School in Wittenberg, Germany from February 18-March 1, 2019. Future classes over the next two years will be held at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne and Concordia Publishing House in St. Louis, Missouri.

Rev. Dr. Naomichi Masaki of CTSFW serves as Director of the Lutheran Leadership Program. For more information on the program, including details on student learning outcomes, a description of course requirements, and admission details, click here.

Breath of God, Yet Work of Man: First LLDP resource published

Course materials for the Lutheran Leadership Development Program are being prepared in partnership between CTSFW and CPH, with the first of these new resources just unveiled. Breath of God, Yet Work of Man: Scripture, Philosophy, Dialogue, and Conflict is now available for pre-order from CPH.

Edited by Rev. Charles P. Schaum and Rev. Dr. Albert Collver (ILC General Secretary), the book features definitions, benefits, and discussions of Lutheran biblical interpretation. The authors explain tensions that underlie the use of Scripture in Christian witness, acts of mercy, and life together.

Rev. Dr. Albert Collver (ILC General Secretary) and Rev. Dr. Bruce Kintz (CPH President and CEO) display the new book Breath of God, Yet Work of Man.

While developed especially for use in the Lutheran Leadership Development Program, the book will be of interest to a much broader audience. “The authors have assembled a massive amount of material that will challenge readers to think more carefully about how we read the Holy Scriptures and confess the faith today,” notes Rev. Dr. John T. Pless, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions at CTSFW. “This is a provocative book that will engage both those within and outside of the Missouri Synod in coming to understand the development of modern hermeneutics.”

Download a sample of the book by visiting CPH’s website here.

Support the training of Confessional Lutheran Leaders around the world

You can support the Lutheran Leadership Development Program and its work in preparing confessional Lutheran leaders for churches around the world through online giving. Simply designate your donation for “The Lutheran Leadership Development Program.” You can make a one-time gift or set-up recurrent giving.

You can also make donations by mail to the following address:

International Lutheran Council
PO Box 18775
St. Louis, MO 63118
United States of America

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