German and Tanzanian Member Churches Consulting Together

Consultation participants from Germany and Tanzania after the consultations. Photos: ELCB
Consultation participants from Germany and Tanzania after the consultations. Photos: ELCB

“Unifying Force of Jesus Christ”

(LWI) – A delegation from the conference of bishops in the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (VELKD) has met with bishops from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) in Arusha to deepen partnerships between the churches.

In the consultations from 20 to 25 February 2014 the bishops discussed common challenges in their respective churches. “We had very deep discussions about these questions, and also about public theology,” Presiding Bishop Dr. Alex G Malasusa of ELCT said. “The contexts of our churches are totally different, but as churches we can exchange our views.”

Long history of partnership

The ELCT and German Lutheran churches have a long history of partnerships on various levels, between churches, dioceses and parishes in both countries. Further planning and shaping these relations was one of the visit’s objectives. “We have been having a good dialogue with the Tanzanian colleges for some years,” Bishop Gerhard Ulrich, presiding, leading bishop of the VELKD, said prior to the meeting. “Because of our different cultural, religious and political backgrounds sharing is important for understanding each other and deepening a relationship of trust.”

Besides partnership work and the understanding of ministry, focus was put on social issues such as land justice and climate justice. Heavy rains and droughts have become more common in Tanzania over the last years destroying harvests and destabilizing food security. Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bavaria interprets this as a consequence of climate change. “However the Carbondioxide emissions in Tanzania of 0,2 tons per capita greatly differ from those in Western Europe (9-10t per capita). This is a question of justice”, Bedford-Strohm remarked.

Open discussion

Bedford-Strohm praised the feeling of a communion during the consultations. “We discovered much common ground on our calling to spread the gospel and express the joy faith gives us, which is the foundation for our advocating for peace and justice”, he shared on social media. The meeting ended with a church service where all participants shared in the Holy Communion. “In this service we very strongly felt the unifying force of Jesus Christ”, Bedford-Strohm said. The sentiment was shared on the side of the hosts. “It was a very good meeting”, Malasusa added. “I am looking forward to future meetings like that.”