Ethiopian Church Marks Reformation Anniversary, Urging Peace, Love and Equality

Large colorful choir crowd singing and dancing at the 500 years commemoration anniversary in Ethiopia. Photo: Tsion Alemayehu

Resist temptation to commodify the gospel says LWF President Panti Filibus Musa

(LWI) - The healing mission of the church must remain paramount as it marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the president of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), Rev. Yonas Yigezu, has urged.

Speaking on 10 December in Addis Ababa at the African church’s grand celebration of the Reformation anniversary, Yigezu said in his closing message of the three-day event that a reformed and reforming church must deepen its mission work nationally and internationally.

 Tsion Alemayehu

Rev. Yonas Yigezu, President of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus delivering his message at the 500 years commemoration anniversary. Photo: Tsion Alemayehu

Human beings are created in the image of God, said the EECMY president, and any abuse against them is seriously condemned by the church. Therefore, the church works with the government and other institutions for peace, love and equality among all citizens, he added.

As it marks the 500th anniversary of the launching of the Reformation, the church must also pay attention to climate change, the EECMY leader said. With this in mind, he called on the government of Ethiopia to create policies that give due attention to environment stewardship.

For its part, the church needs to make certain that everyone is able to read and hear the gospel in language that is understandable, the EECMY president added.

The EECMY Reformation anniversary events included a theological symposium, a procession of church leaders, pastors, lay people, marching bands and a walk calling for safer traffic conditions.

 Tsion Alemayehu

Choreography by 500 compassion children representing the 500 years commemoration. These children are supported by the EECMY Development and Social Services Commission (DASSC). Photo: Tsion Alemayehu

Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa, president of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), reflecting on the theme, “Being a Reformed and Reforming Church in Africa Today” at the symposium, said reforming churches must tackle political, economic, cultural and social issues.

He warned that churches in Africa must resist the growing temptation to commodify the gospel, urging them to focus on theological education and formation, good governance, transforming leaders, citizenship, ecumenism and interreligious relations.

“In many circles, the message of God’s salvation by grace through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and its implications for the church seems peripheral, while promises of healing and other works of healing take more center stage,” Archbishop Musa said.

Vulnerable people have been taken advantage of by the so-called “miracle workers”, therefore a reforming church in Africa must resist the growing tendency to commodify the gospel message, the LWF president emphasized.

 Tsion Alemayehu

Archbishop Panti Filibus Musa, President of the Lutheran World Federation sharing the word at the 500 commemoration anniversary celebration by the EECMY in Addis Ababa Mekane Yesus Seminary. Photo: Tsion Alemayehu

Archbishop Musa strongly condemned greed, corruption, exploitation and abuse of power in the church and in society. He said reforming churches in Africa, and in Ethiopia in particular, must be bold to name and address the menaces of corruption, nepotism and financial scandal.

“Leaders must demonstrate unquestionable character upon which hang the image, credibility and prophetic voice of the church,” he added.

 Tsion Alemayehu

Helen Bahru, member of EECMY-DASSC board reading a scripture at the 500 years commemoration anniversary. Photo: Tsion Alemayehu

Following the symposium, the EECMY organized a walk to illustrate its intention to remain a missional church, while also vowing to reduce traffic accidents in Ethiopia. The walk was also held to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the EECMY International Mission Society formation not the EECMY or the church itself, but the joint program of the church called MY-IMS (Mekane Yesus International Mission Society)..

Thousands of people, including Archbishop Dr Musa, Rev. Dr Jeannette Ada Maina, LWF vice-president for Africa, Rev. Dr Elieshi Mungure, the LWF area secretary for Africa, Dr. Ojot Ojulu Miru, Interim Assistant General Secretary for International Affairs and Human Rights, Ms Sophie Ghebreyes, LWF DWS country program director in Ethiopia, participated in the event.

Other participants included representatives of local partners, including the Roman Catholic Church, Seventh Day Adventists, the Kale Hiwot church of Ethiopia, the Fellowship of Evangelical churches in Ethiopia, Ethiopian Meserete Kirstos Church, Full Gospel church of Ethiopia. Several international partners of EECMY were also present for the commemoration.

 Tsion Alemayehu

Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel - head of Ethiopian Catholic Church. Photo: Tsion Alemayehu

The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus has been a member of the LWF since 1963. With slightly over 9,000,000 members it is the largest member church of the communion.

By Tsion Alemayehu. Edited by LWF communications.