Caring Hands

Rev. Martin Junge and Rev. Dr Elieshi Mungure attending the anniversary celebrations. © Felix Samari LCCN/LWF
Rev. Martin Junge and Rev. Dr Elieshi Mungure attending the anniversary celebrations. © Felix Samari LCCN/LWF

Nigerian Lutheran Church Celebrates 100th Anniversary

 (LWI) – The Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN) celebrated its 100th anniversary in a festive worship service attended by 5,000 people, including representatives from the global Lutheran communion.

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge expressed joy at the LCCN centennial, and urged the church’s leadership and other members to remain faithful to its holistic mission amid difficult times.

“Allow yourselves to be nurtured by Word and Sacrament, and remain open to the Holy Spirit’s action in your midst,” Junge told thousands of church members who traveled from across the country to mark the anniversary celebrations on 5 October.

“This is particularly important in times such as these, when there is so much violence, strain in communal relationships, alienation and despair,” added Junge.

The LCCN, a member church of the LWF which has around 2 million members in 2,468 congregations, marked its centennial with two days of celebrations at Demsa under the theme, “A Century of God’s Faithfulness.”

Junge encouraged the crowds gathered to mark the 100th anniversary to keep to their baptismal vocation so that as individuals and as a community of believers they stay on the path to peace, justice and reconciliation.

“Let your words and actions be inspired by that amazing love that has been revealed to humankind through Jesus Christ. Let your hearts continue to burn as you receive God’s presence in Word and Sacrament, equipping you for your holistic mission.

“Let your hands continue to be caring, serving and supporting those who suffer in your midst,” Junge said.

Reconciling Presence

This was a theme echoed in the address of the LCCN Archbishop Dr Nemuel Abubakar Babba, who reminded church members they are called to be a reconciling presence in a world that is alienated from God.

“An important task of the Church is to reconcile the world, which is hostile and lost to reunion and fellowship with our Creator,” Babba said.

He reminded the church members that 100 years ago local tribes could not meet outside their traditional areas because of ancient enmity but when the LCCN began its annual conventions in 1925, various tribes took part in the church meetings.

“It was a huge step towards peaceful fellowship among the various ethnic groups because of the common faith in Christ,” Babba added.

The archbishop said the church has also pioneered programs supporting Christian-Muslim relations in the country as well as conflict management, conflict resolution and mediation efforts.

“The Church must be holistic,” Archbishop Babba said in a 6 October address. “The Church must increase its compassion to a dying world. “

The LCCN’s centennial journey began in January 1913 when pioneer medical missionaries arrived in Nigeria and established a mission at Numan on 5 October, which has ever since been known as Lutheran Day.

By 1955 the church was called the Lutheran Church of Christ in the Sudan but in 1965 it became independent. It has eight dioceses with members in 12 of Nigeria’s states.

Holistic Mission

In his address the LWF general secretary paid tribute to the “cloud of witnesses” who contributed to the church’s holistic mission, including the missionaries, catechists, deacons, council members, ushers, choir directors, singers and teachers.

“Remember also the countless women, who have taught Bible stories to their children, gathered faithfully for prayer and worship, served suffering neighbors in the name of Christ, and interceded for and stayed with the church in times of conflict and dispute.”

Junge expressed his joy at the privilege of celebrating LCCN’s 100 years of holistic mission, welcoming it as an opportunity to remind church members of the deep connections they share through the LWF.

The centennial celebrations also marked the ordination as bishop of Rev. Dr Panti Filibus Musa, former director of the LWF Department for Mission and Development, who becomes the first diocesan head of the Mayo Belwa Diocese in northeastern Nigeria.

PHOTO ESSAY

Nigerian Church Celebrates a “Century of God’s Faithfulness”

View images from the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria’s (LCCN) 100th anniversary celebrations in early October 2013.

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