Africa’s spiritual gifts enrich the global church

Bishop Younan (fourth from right) stands among Lutheran leaders welcoming a group of young Lutherans who climbed Mt Kilimanjaro. He told worshippers at the close of the Marangu conference that the challenge for Lutherans was to empower African Christians to more fully contextualize the gospel. Photo: LWF/Tsion Alemayehu
Bishop Younan (fourth from right) stands among Lutheran leaders welcoming a group of young Lutherans who climbed Mt Kilimanjaro. He told worshippers at the close of the Marangu conference that the challenge for Lutherans was to empower African Christians to more fully contextualize the gospel. Photo: LWF/Tsion Alemayehu

Over 2000 attend Lutheran anniversary celebrations in Tanzania

MOSHI, Tanzania /GENEVA, 26 May 2015 (LWI) – The 60th anniversary celebrations of the Lutheran communion in Africa concluded with an affirmation of the continent’s strong contribution to the global Reformation.

“There is a spiritual richness and freshness of the Gospel alive in this place,” The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan told over 2,000 worshippers at the closing Eucharist service commemorating the 1955 gathering of African Lutherans in Marangu, Tanzania.

In his Pentecost Sunday sermon, based on Romans 12:1-5, Younan commended the African Lutheran churches for working tirelessly to preach the gospel and making the Bible accessible in several local languages, which has contributed to fast church growth in the region. “These gifts of the African church are exactly the Reformation the rest of the world needs. The global church needs you in as much as you need us.”

Paying tribute to African Christians and their missionary companions who met in Marangu 60 years ago, the LWF president underlined the challenge then as now - to “empower African Christians to more fully contextualize the gospel.”

Religious extremism

The growth of religious extremism is a reality in many parts of the world, Younan said. He named the persecution of Christians in a number of African and Middle East countries as a “dangerous situation which breeds the fear of the other.” As Christians, he stressed “we are called to see the image of God in the other” and therefore “denounce such expression of violence, exclusivity and denial of the other.”

He commended the Lutheran churches in Africa for their powerful witness of engaging with people of other faiths not only through verbal dialogue but also by action and living side by side.

Commemorative celebration

Several choirs and brass bands of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania accompanied the Eucharist worship ceremony, which began with processions and tree-planting, symbolizing the commitment to climate justice. This was followed by the unveiling of a commemorative cross at the Marangu Teachers’ College grounds as a reminder of Lutherans’ connection to the public educational institution.

As the three Lutheran churches in Namibia will host the Twelfth Assembly of the LWF in 2017 and the 500th Reformation anniversary, the service included the handing over of a cloth imprinted with African Leadership Conference of the Lutheran Communion (ALCLC) participants’ signatures to the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa delegates.

Marangu message

ELCT Presiding Bishop and LWF-Vice President for the Africa region Dr Alex G. Malasusa officially closed the Marangu 60th anniversary celebrations by reading out the final message of the ALCLC.

The message affirmed the African member churches’ commitment to strengthen theological education and pastoral formation in order to address the continent’s contextual realities. The delegates stressed the need to empower congregational and national church sectors to actively engage in mission and diaconal activities. They pledged to work for service-oriented leadership that is accountable, transparent, with active gender and intergenerational participation. Resource mobilization locally and beyond was identified as important for ensuring a church that can sustain itself into the future.

 

Read the final message from the Marangu commemoration
 

Find out more about Marangu 2015