“We celebrated like one family”

LWF Council member Bishop Dr Jensen Seyenkulo. Photo: LWF / Albin Hillert
Voices from the Communion: LWF Council member Bishop Dr Jensen Seyenkulo leads the Lutheran Church in Liberia and is president of the Lutheran Communion in Central and Western Africa (LUCCWA). Photo: LWF / Albin Hillert

Voices from the Communion: LWF Council member Bishop Dr Jensen Seyenkulo

(LWI) - Bishop Dr Jensen Seyenkulo leads the Lutheran Church in Liberia and is president of the Lutheran Communion in Central and Western Africa (LUCCWA), which is made up of the 10 LWF member churches of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. When the LWF churches of the region come together, it is to learn, to motivate, to encourage and to celebrate. In the video, he describes the esteem with which Lutheran churches are held during times of crisis.

What issue in particular is of greatest concern to LUCCWA churches?

The LWF sub-regional expression of Central and Western Africa, where I serve as president, is hampered by innumerable issues. But one that comes to mind at the moment is the effect of climate change on the region. Like never before, the rains, instead of helping grow crops, have fallen so heavily that they have been destructive to our crops, to our properties and to human life. It is not only plants that are affected; roads and bridges are being washed away making it impossible to travel from one place to another. Human lives are being lost by the hundreds.

How does LUCCWA intervene to alleviate these problems?

One of the reasons for our upcoming LUCCWA meeting in Dakar, Senegal, is to gather ideas for addressing this particular issue and other challenges. But before we meet in November, the Lutheran Church in Liberia (LCL) has entered into partnership with an environmental organization. The idea is to decrease the felling of trees by supplementing charcoal production through using waste materials for fuel.

During the West African ebola virus epidemic, which hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and reached its height in 2014, Liberian church leaders, including me, were allowed into restricted areas to distribute relief goods, such was their standing in the community.

LUCCWA must be a source of support and encouragement to its members. How is this shown?

The LUCCWA gathering left those leaders returning home with a new sense of vigor, more motivated for ministry because of their experiences.
Bishop Dr Jensen Seyenkulo

The entire LUCCWA community was guest of the LCL just last year for the celebration of the 500th anniversary celebration of the Reformation. The presence of that community raised the image of the Lutheran Church in Liberia in ways that I have not experienced before. LUCCWA’s presence brought together the ecumenical Christian community in Liberia and we celebrated like one family. The gathering helped unite the Christian community in Liberia but also according to words reaching us from other members of the communion, the gathering left those leaders returning home with a new sense of vigor, more motivated for ministry because of their experiences. Our anticipation is that we will come away from Dakar similarly rejuvenated for our respective ministries.

As LUCCWA president, what do you see as the strength of the West and Central Africa churches working in communion?

Our collaboration gives us the opportunity to gather occasionally and enables us to learn from one another. Through these gatherings we learn to avoid pitfalls and adopt the approaches that seem to work.

What is the LUCCWA churches’ engagement in the global sustainable development goals (SDGs)?

Liberia was chosen to be one of the four LWF countries around the world that serve as pilot for the Waking the Giant program. Liberia was chosen through the instrumentality of the LCL. This program, as I see it, is an attempt to give the faith community a chance to demonstrate their ability to manage resources from big donor organizations to implement specific SDG objectives. Liberia is using the ecumenical organization called the Liberia Council of Churches to address five objectives of the SDGs, namely, education, health, gender equality, reducing inequality and promoting peace and justice. LUCCWA is paying close attention to the Liberia Council of Churches with the hope of learning from them so that we can apply some of their strategies in some of our member churches.

Do any particular biblical verses resonate with the churches of the LUCCWA region?

Personally, I have used John 10:10 where Jesus says, “I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” We feel called as the agents of our Lord to help make that abundant life possible. That entails preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ and also attending to the physical needs of those to whom the Lord has sent us.

 

Watch the full interview here


Voices from the Communion

The Lutheran World Federation is a global body that shares the work and love of Christ in the world. In this series, we profile church leaders and staff as they discuss topical issues and set out ideas for building peace and justice in the world, ensuring the churches and communion grow in witness and strength.

 

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