ILC sponsors theological education in Nigera

Dr. Naomichi Masaki poses the students of Jonathan Ekong Memorial Lutheran Seminary.

NIGERIA – From November 12-23, 2018, the International Lutheran Council (ILC) sponsored a visiting scholar to the Lutheran Church of Nigeria (LCN) to provide guest lectures at Jonathan Ekong Memorial Lutheran Seminary in Uyo. Rev. Dr. Naomichi Masaki (Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana) led two weeks of intensive teaching at the seminary following a request from LCN Archbishop Christian Ekong.

Dr. Masaki and the students of his Lutheran Confessions course.

Every day during his time in Uyo, Dr. Masaki taught a three-hour course on the Lutheran Confessions for a class of sixteen; a two-hour course on the Lord’s Supper for a class of eight; and a one-hour course focusing on theological questions and answers (for the entire student body, about 65 students in all). Dr. Masaki also preached for chapel every day, focusing on the subjects of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the Office of the Holy Ministry.

In addition to his teaching duties, Dr. Masaki also participated in congregational visits and worship services on weekends, preached and participated in communion services, and even attended the wedding of a student as well as a traditional funeral.

Dr. Masaki participates in a local communion service.

“Perhaps I am overworking here everyday, including weekends,” suggested Dr. Masaki. “But that’s what I came here for. I am grateful for the opportunities of teaching, preaching, spending time with students and faculty, visiting local villages and congregations, and, of course, great time to spend with the archbishop.”

Dr. Masaki concluded his time in Nigeria by bringing greetings to the 39th Regular Council of the Lutheran Church of Nigeria. The council, which took place November 23-25 in Obot Idim, met under the theme of “Called by Christ to Bear Fruit,” drawing on Romans 7:4-7. Among other subjects, the LCN discussed revisions to the church’s constitution as well as continuing training for seminary faculty.

LCN Archbishop Christian Ekong speaks during the LCN’s 2018 Regular Council.

Support for theological education is a key part of the International Lutheran Council’s programming. In addition to short-term projects like Dr. Masaki’s trip to Nigeria, the ILC has also recently launched a new program called the Lutheran Leadership Development Program (LLDP). The program, which is operated in partnership with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, Concordia Publishing House, and Concordia Theological Seminary (Fort Wayne, Indiana), provides Lutheran church bodies around the world with an opportunity to develop leaders who are competent in both solid confessional Lutheran theology, as well as practical skills in leadership and resource management. Dr. Masaki is director of the LLDP.

In addition to theological training, the ILC has also begun to support Nigerian Missionary Pastors following a request from the Lutheran Church in Nigeria for aid in this area.


Nigerian Lutherans remember former vice-president

Funeral banner marking the passing of LCN Vice President Emeritus Sunday Obari Owateobe.

NIGERIA – On May 5, the Lutheran Church of Nigeria (LCN) held a funeral service for the Rev. Sunday Obari Owateobe, with members of the church in attendance from across the nation.

“The late Reverend was a gallant soldier of the cross,” the LCN noted on social media. “May his soul rest in peace and may the Lord protect and preserve the bereaved.”

Rev. Owateobe served as LCN Vice-President from 2002-2008. He was 80 years old at the time of his death, having been born in 1937.

The Lutheran Church of Nigeria is a member church of the International Lutheran Council, a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies. Its membership numbers more than 80,000. The LCN is also a member church of the Lutheran World Federation.


Nigerian Lutherans meet in convention, raise funds for university project

LCN Archbishop Christian Ekong gives the benediction during worship at the church's 2016 national convention.
LCN Archbishop Christian Ekong gives the benediction during worship at the church’s 2016 national convention.

NIGERIA – The Lutheran Church of Nigeria (LCN) held its Biennial Synod Convention in Obot Idim from January 6-10, 2015. Approximately 6,000 people attended the convention, which met under the theme “Christ Lives in Me, For Life Together,” based upon Colossians 1:27.

January 6 was a Choir Conference, and featured lectures on worship and liturgy. Dr. Isaac Udo of the University of Uyo presented on “Evangelical Church Music: Church Hymns and Anthems” in the morning while the Bishop S.O. Willie of the Rivers Zone presented on “Understanding Lutheran Liturgy and Presentation.”

The convention proper began January 7. Archbishop Christian Ekong took time to explicate the theme for the convention and lead prayer for a successful gathering. A major focus of the convention was the funding and development of the Lutheran University Nigeria Project. Nigerian Lutherans see great potential for the opening of a university, as education in the country is much sought after. The convention organized fundraising for the project and also broke ground near the LCN’s headquarters in Obot Idim.

Saturday evening saw Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver give the convention’s keynote lecture on “Christ Lives in Me for Life Together.” Dr. Albert B. Collver is Executive Secretary for the International Lutheran Council and Director of Church Relations for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS).

The event closed with a massive celebration of worship on Sunday. Approximately 6,000 people were in attendance for the eight-hour service. Dr. Collver preached on the Baptism of Christ for the event. The service saw LCN Archbishop Ekong consecrate two new bishops for service in the church, following which Holy Communion was celebrated for the thousands in attendance.

Archbishop Ekong consecrates two new bishops for the Lutheran Church of Nigeria.
Archbishop Ekong consecrates two new bishops for service in the Lutheran Church of Nigeria.

2016 marks the 80th anniversary of the Lutheran Church of Nigeria, which was founded in 1936 by missionaries from LCMS. Both the LCN and the LCMS are member churches of the International Lutheran Council.