MADAGASCAR – On November 5, 2020, the Malagasy Lutheran Church (Fiangonana Loterana Malagasy – FLM) elected Rev. Dr. Denis Rakotozafy to serve as its new president. The vote came during the church’s 23rd Synodical Conference held November 4-8 in Mahajanga, which gathered under the theme: “And increase the harvest of your righteousness…” (2 Corinthians 9:10b).
“I send my warmest greetings and congratulations to Dr. Rakotozafy on his election.” said Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, General Secretary of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). “I’ve known Denis for several years, and I’m looking forward to working with him in the years to come, as the relationship between the Malagasy Lutheran Church and the ILC continues to strengthen and deepen. May God bless the Malagasy church as it moves forward.”
Dr. Rakotozafy was elected after four rounds of voting, in a 312-163 vote. He had already secured more than fifty percent of the vote beginning with the first ballot, but the FLM requires the president of the church to be elected by a 2/3 majority vote, leading to subsequent votes as other candidates dropped from the ballot.
Dr. Rakotozafy succeeds the late Rev. Dr. David Rakotonirina, who passed away in July 2020 after contracting COVID-19.
Prior to his election, Dr. Rakotozafy was Vice President of the FLM’s Antananarivo Regional Synod, serving one term from 2012-2014 and beginning another in February 2020. He also began serving as District President of the Anosibe District in February 2020, having previously served as Vice President of the District from 2018-2020. He formerly served as President of the Mangalaza District from 1999-2000. He was ordained in 1999.
Dr. Rakotozafy has also served in various positions for the Federation of the Protestant Churches of Madagascar and the Council of Christian Churches in Madagascar.
In 2018, Dr. Rakotozafy earned a PhD in missiology from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His dissertation was entitled “Missional Ecclesiology: The Mission of God and the Sending of the Church through the Fifohazana (Revival Movement) in the Fiangonana Loterana Malagasy (Malagasy Lutheran Church).” The Fifohazana revival movement has seen the FLM become one of the largest and fastest growing Lutheran churches in the world.
Since completing his PhD, Dr. Rakotozafy has gone on to teach missiology at the FLM’s Graduate School of Theology (SALT) in Ivory Avaratra, as well as at Ambatoroka’s theological institute.
The ongoing synodical gathering has also seen the election of several other officers to the FLM’s governing board, including the election of Rev. Velomahatombo as Vice President of the FLM. Prior to the election, Rev. Velomahatombo was serving as President of the FLM’s Menabe Regional Synod.
“Grace and peace to all the newly elected leaders,” said Dr. Quill. “The Lord bless you with wisdom and courage to faithfully meet the serious challenges facing the Lord’s Church, as well as the incredible opportunities to proclaim Jesus Christ and His saving Word. It all depends on the Word.”
The FLM became a member of the International Lutheran Council in 2018.