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2022 World Conference: Works of Mercy

ILC World Conference participants arrive at the Lake Diocese cathedral in Kisimu.

KENYA – Late on September 15, participants in the ILC’s 2022 World Conference visited the cathedral of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya’s (ELCK) Lake Diocese in Kisimu, where they joined in worship and learned about the Kenyan church’s works of mercy.

Provost Martin Orende preaches.

After a welcome from diocesan Bishop Titus Okoda, the church held a service of vespers. Provost Martin Orende of the ELCK preached on John 1:29-34, while Rev. Charles Froh served as liturgist.

Following the service, delegates heard from representatives of four of the ELCK’s mercy projects. First, they heard from Rev. Isaiah Apeyo of Capstone Ministry, an agency which helps to reunite street children with their families and provide reconciliation work. Children can end up on the street for a number of reasons, Rev. Apeyo noted, and so successful reintegration requires regular follow-ups and family counseling. A key part of the work is encouraging children and their families to engage with local congregations, Rev. Apeyo said, as helping people to heal their relationships with God also helps them to heal their relationships with each other.

Deaconess Lorna Meeker of Point of Grace Academy was next to speak. Point of Grace Academy provides education for underprivileged and needy children who otherwise could not afford an education, including orphans, disabled children, and those suffering from HIV/Aids. The school has almost 800 students in total, with nearly 350 of these from the local area, and just over 450 of these coming as boarding students from elsewhere in Kenya. Point of Grace Academy not only cares for needy children, Deaconess Meeker noted, but also provides care for elderly people, the addicted, and widows in the local area. As part of their care for the whole person, Grace Academy provides regular catechesis to children, teaching them about Jesus. More than 300 children have been baptized through their encounters with Point of Grace Academy. (Conference participants were invited to visit the school on the following day, as part of a selection of excursions.)

Presenters speak on mercy projects of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya.

Deaconess Rispah was next to speak, highlighting the work of Project 24, a joint project of the ELCK and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). Project 24 has eight boarding sites throughout Kenya that care for orphans with nowhere else to go. Deaconess Rispah, who is the director of one of Project 24’s sites, noted that the proclamation of the Gospel is central to this ministry’s work as well, recognizing that children have not only physical needs but spiritual needs too.

Finally, conference attendees learned about the ELCK’s school for at-risk people with intellectual disabilities. This school, which is on the same campus as the ELCK’s cathedral in Kisumu, accepts children and adults on the recommendation of the government, and helps them to achieve greater independence. Students have often previously not learned how to clothe themselves, bathe, or use the washroom. Beginning with these basic life skills, students advance to higher skills, culminating in vocational training. The school also seeks to offer a sheltered workshop where graduates of the program can continue to find meaningful work together in a safe and loving environment. Teaching the students about Jesus is a key part of this wholistic ministry.

Students sing and dance.

Conference attendees visited the school after the presentations, where they were greeted by students eager to share their musical gifts and say hello. The choir of students sang two songs, with conference participants considering it a highlight of the trip. Following the performance, participants had the chance to tour dormitories, classrooms, and the workshop for handicrafts.

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South Sudan celebrates bishop’s consecration

Bishop Nathaniel Bol (centre left) is invested as bishop of SSELC.
Bishop Nathaniel Bol (front right) following his consecration.

KENYA – On April 24, 2022, Rev. Nathaniel Bol Nyok Apar was consecrated as Bishop of the South Sudan Evangelical Lutheran Church (SSELC).

The consecration took place at Kakuma in northwestern Kenya. Kakuma is the site of a United Nations refugee camp which hosts refugees from Sudan. The church has four congregations in the camp (three South Sudanese and one Sudanese).

Archbishop Joseph Ochola Omolo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK) presided over the consecration service, and Bishop Charles Bameka of the Lutheran Church of Uganda (LCU) preached for the event. Also participating in the consecration were Bishop Emmanuel Makala of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania – South East of Lake Victoria Diocese (ELCT-SELVD), Bishop Robert Kaumba of the Lutheran Evangelical Church in Africa—Zambia Diocese (LECA), and diocesan Bishops William Lopeta and Titus Okoda of the ELCK.

“I want to congratulate Bishop Bol on his formal consecration,” said General Secretary Timothy Quill of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). “He has served the South Sudanese church for many years already, and I pray that God will continue to bless him in his ministry.”

Rev. Nathaniel Bol is consecrated as bishop of the South Sudan Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Bishop Bol was elected in December 2011 but attempts to hold a formal consecration service in South Sudan were complicated by civil war which raged in the country from 2013-2020. The conflict led approximately 2.5 million people to flee the country as refugees, primarily to Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan.

An earlier attempt to hold a consecration service in Kenya in 2021 was also delayed.

The South Sudan Evangelical Lutheran Church is an observer member church of the International Lutheran Council, a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies.

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Former Kenyan bishop enters into glory

Rt. Rev. Francis Nyamwaro Onderi

KENYA – The Rt. Rev. Francis Nyamwaro Onderi, former Chairman and Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK), entered into glory on November 17, 2020.

In 1996, Rev. Nyamwaro was installed as the first bishop of the ELCK, following a decision of the church a year prior to transition to an episcopal structure. Prior to that transition, he also served as the church’s last chairman. Rev. Nyamwaro would continue to serve as bishop until his retirement.

In a post announcing his death, the ELCK highlighted some of his accomplishments as head of the church body. “It was during his watch that the Lutheran Church grew, and reached all the then-nine provinces of the Republic of Kenya,” the church notes, including work among Somali refugees in the north-east of the country. The church also praised his work among the Borana in Marsabit and the Digo in Kwale, as well as new outreach to the Kalenjin, the Masai, Sumburu, Kamba, Kikuyu, Meru, and Embu. Work in traditionally strong Lutheran areas, like Kisii, Luoland, and amongst the Pokot, also expanded during this period.

“He was first of all a pastor and servant of God, and should be honoured as such,” the church writes.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya is a member of the International Lutheran Council (ILC), a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies.

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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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