ELCA Global Mission and EECMY-DASSC sign Memorandum of Understanding

Participants of the signing ceremony between EECMY – DASSC and ELCA Global Mission to resume cooperation on ongoing projects in the field of Diakonia. Photo: LWF/S. Gallay
Participants of the signing ceremony between EECMY – DASSC and ELCA Global Mission to resume cooperation on ongoing projects in the field of Diakonia. Photo: LWF/S. Gallay

Continued cooperation of ongoing projects in the area of diakonia

GENEVA, 25 June 2015 (LWI) - The Development and Social Services Commission of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY-DASSC) and the Global Mission unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to continue project cooperation of ongoing projects in the field of Diakonia.

In doing so, both the ELCA and the EECMY have made use of an existing provision in the 2013 EECMY General Assembly decision. The highest decision-making body of the EECMY severed partnership ties with the ELCA and Church of Sweden, but indicated the possibility to continue engagement in diaconal projects that were under implementation at the time of its decision.

Commenting on the importance of the signature, the LWF Vice-President for the African region, Presiding Bishop Dr Alex. G. Malasusa of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania encouraged the churches to not regard the signed document as a result, but as a step towards resumption of the cooperation in ongoing diaconal projects. “Let this not become another signed document without tangible effects, as they are so many in our world today, but a document which translates into concrete actions.” He attended the signing ceremony in the LWF Communion Office on 19 June.

The LWF Vice-President for North America, National Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada also witnessed the signature of the project cooperation MoU. In her remarks, she underlined the role of the LWF communion as a space that is shared by all member churches, and the importance of accompaniment with a view of healing and reconciliation. ”I am glad we were able to gather at the table for a meal. I am delighted we are gathered at a meeting table for this signing. I look forward, with hope, to the day these churches can meet again at the table of the Lord.”

EECMY President Rev. Dr Wakseyoum I. Negeri referred to the door that the EECMY had left open for continued support of ongoing development and social services’ projects. “I am glad that now an atmosphere of understanding is created that such support continues within the limits of the decisions of the EECMY, where the EECMY DASSC makes careful follow up on the implementation of these ongoing projects”, he expressed. “We will continue to pray to God to provide us with better future”, he added.

For the ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton the Memorandum of Understanding “defines us as neighbors despite the distance and the contexts that divide us. But we are more than neighbors, more even than brothers and sisters. St. Paul writes, ‘So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.’ (Romans 12:5) I pray that this MoU will lead to deeper conversation, reconciliation and restoration of community between our churches”.

LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan said: “I believe this is a day of joy: for the poor who will be served, for the two churches involved and for the entire communion. Without any doubt God’s Spirit has brought this day to come. We trust in God’s ongoing guidance and inspiration for the journey of healing and restoration that is still ahead.

In his report to the Council, the LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge pledged “the LWF’s efforts to continue accompanying these (two) churches. The moment we as a communion stop feeling the pain of the fracture in relationships (….) we have ceased to be a body and given up on our vocation to live and witness together as churches in communion”.