Younan Welcomed as Man of Hope
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia/GENEVA, 13 July 2012 (LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan has completed a four-day solidarity visit to the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), one of the LWF’s largest and fastest growing churches, 8-12 July.
Younan, who is bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, visited some of the church’s historic congregations, diaconal services and theological institutions, praising the church’s balancing of mission and diaconal ministries.
During a sermon at the Addis Ababa Mekane Yesus congregation, he noted that Ethiopia was the first place after Jerusalem in which Christianity was accepted in the 1st century AD. He urged the over 5 million-member EECMY to continue embracing discipleship even when faced with adversity and challenged by religious and political extremism and the theology of prosperity. The bishop called for “costly discipleship.”
President Younan was accompanied by Bishop Alex G. Malasusa, LWF vice-president for Africa and Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania; LWF Area Secretary for Africa Rev. Dr Elieshi Mungure; and Pamela Akinyi Oyieyo, a member of the LWF Council from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya.
The LWF delegation was welcomed by EECMY President Rev. Dr Wakseyoum Idosa, who called the LWF president, “a man of God, who is always ready to offer witness of mediation, speaks truth to power and is full of hope, a hope that comes from the depth of faith in God.”
Rev. Yonas Yigezu, director of the EECMY Department of Mission and Theology, outlined the church’s plans for mission, while Ato Deed Jaldessa, director of the EECMY Development and Social Services Commission, presented its achievements.
Speaking at a banquet in honor of the visiting LWF delegation, Idosa underscored the fact that the LWF is a communion of churches where members engage each other in a spirit of love, tolerance, respect and solidarity in order to make Christ known to the world.
At the Mekane Yesus Seminary and the church’s Management and Leadership College, Younan and his delegation met with faculty and heard plans for future expansion, including the opening of a university.
The delegation also visited the center for children with mental disabilities run by the church that supports 372 children in two separate operations.
At the LWF’s Department for World Service office in Addis Adaba, Bishop Younan commended the staff for the work they do in minimizing the human suffering brought on by environmental disasters and those sparked by human conflict, noting that the work helps illustrate the practical engagement of the LWF.
Bishop Younan and the LWF delegation met with His Holiness Abune Paulos, the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, where they engaged in discussions on ecumenical relations in Ethiopia.
Paulos said that it was an honor to receive the delegation and Younan added that he appreciated the warm welcome and the news of cooperation between the Orthodox church and the EECMY. He also stressed the commitment of the LWF to ecumenical cooperation.
Discussions with the president of the Ethiopian Islamic Supreme Council focused on the condemnation of extremism and the promotion of tolerance and mutual cooperation.
Meeting with the Ethiopian deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, Bishop Younan commended the good relations between EECMY and the government. The minister ensured that the government will continue to work for human rights and freedom of religion in the country and praised the poverty alleviation and development work of the LWF and EECMY. (589 words)