Marangu at 60: Celebrating growing Lutheran solidarity in Africa

Speakers at the 1955 conference in Marangu included (from left) Dr Emmanuel Abraham (Ethiopia), E. M. Marealle (Tanzania), and LWF Executive Committee President Dr Franklin Clark Fry (USA). Photo: LWF Archives
Speakers at the 1955 conference in Marangu included (from left) Dr Emmanuel Abraham (Ethiopia), E. M. Marealle (Tanzania), and LWF Executive Committee President Dr Franklin Clark Fry (USA). Photo: LWF Archives

Tanzanian church hosts historic Reformation preparation event

 

(LWI) – “This is an opportunity to celebrate growing Lutheran solidarity, unity and courage.” This is how Presiding Bishop Dr Alex G. Malasusa of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) describes the forthcoming 60th anniversary of the first meeting of all Lutherans in Africa, in Marangu, northern Tanzania.

From 20-25 May 2015, over 200 delegates from The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches in Africa, LWF global leaders and ecumenical guests will gather at the Marangu Teachers’ College in northern Tanzania, the venue of the first such gathering in 1955.

“Marangu to Wittenberg: Being a Reforming church in a changing African context,” is the theme of this year’s jubilee, which will also map the churches’ contribution to the global Reformation anniversary in 2017. Delegates will reflect on the churches’ journey together since the first all-Africa Lutheran leaders’ conference 60 years ago, and address theological, socio-economic and political issues.

At the Marangu founding conference, only the Malagasy Lutheran Church was a full LWF member church. Other delegates at the time came from so-called “non-LWF member churches” in Northern Tanganyika, South Africa and Ethiopia, and from mission societies.

Today, the Lutheran communion in Africa includes 31 LWF member churches in 23 countries, representing more than 21 million Christians, with several emerging Lutheran bodies across the region.

This year’s jubilee will be hosted by the ELCT and the Lutheran Communion in Central and Eastern Africa. Malasusa, LWF Vice-President for Africa, will officiate at the 20 May opening ceremony.

“It all began in Marangu. Inspired by the Lutheran communion spirit of our forefathers and foremothers, we come back to this very place with thanksgiving to God for giving us the strength to nurture the seed of African solidarity and unity that they planted,” Malasusa told Lutheran World Information (LWI).

Participants at Marangu will include heads of churches, women and youth leaders, academics from theological institutions, representatives from churches in other LWF regions and related agencies, as well as officials from the Tanzanian government.

LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge will deliver the keynote address on 20 May. He will provide orientation for the Reformation anniversary and the LWF Twelfth Assembly to be held in May 2017 in Windhoek, Namibia.

LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan will preach at the eucharistic service on Pentecost Sunday, at which 1,500 worshippers are expected.

“Celebrating the Marangu jubilee especially with our brothers and sisters from the global Lutheran communion is an opportunity to also affirm the relevance of the LWF for its member churches,” Malasusa emphasized. “Belonging to the global communion of Lutheran churches strengthens our vision for holistic mission, mutual accompaniment in joyful and difficult times, and spirituality which is reflected in worship and theological formation,” he added.

 

 

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