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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Loehe Theological Conference IV: Wilhelm Loehe on Christian Formation

For the past several days, the International Loehe Society ( Fourth Loehe Theological Conference has been holding forth in Neuendettelsau, Germany -- Loehe's base of operation in the 19th century. Scholars primarily from Germany and North America discussed the topic of Christian Formation.

Professor John Pless and Dr. Albert Collver from the LCMS were presenters at the conference. Deaconess Grace Rao and Rev. Tony Booker, Regional Director for Eurasia, also attended on behalf of the LCMS.

Dr. Collver's presentation was titled, "Loehe: Mission Societies, The Church in Its Motion and Missio Dei." Collver noted that for Loehe the church engages in mission by being Church. The gospel goes out into the world to all nations, one congregation at a time. Collver used Loehe to critique some contemporary Missiology trends.

Professor Pless presented on "Seed Grains: Loehe's Manual for Christian Formation Through Prayer." Loehe teaches Christians how to pray, not by talking about prayer but by providing prayers for Christians to imitate. He provides prayers for the church year and for various events and concerns. The Psalter has a primary function in Seed Grains with each day of the week. Through Seed Grains, Loehe hoped to shape the life of the Christian.

Nikolai Kirche, Loehe's congregation. At the time of Loehe, there were only about 500 people in Neuendettelsau.

Stained glass window in the Nikolai Kirche.

The tomb of Wilhelm Löhe.

Wilhelm Loehe was instrumental in the establishment of St Lorenz (pictured above) in Frankenmuth, Michigan.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

EECMY 10th Council Meeting

The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) is holding its Council meeting. The EECMY holds a general assembly every four years. This is similar to a convention for the LCMS. The EECMY also holds a council meeting between the general assemblies. The council meeting consists of all the synod presidents (District Presidents in LCMS terminology) and other representatives. Reports are made by each Synod (District in LCMS lingo) to the council. Currently, the various synods are reporting on how they are implementing the strategic plan. The EECMY has a church wide strategic plan. Each Synod (District) operates according to the same plan with the same goals. One Synod reported to the Council that they had gained 87,000 new members since this time last year. The Council is able to make decisions on behalf of the entire church between general assemblies. The third level of governance in the EECMY is the executive committee. President Harrison met with the executive committee in January 2014.

Dr. Collver had opportunity to bring greetings to the Council on behalf of President Harrison and the LCMS. The EECMY expressed appreciation for President Harrison's visit in January, as well as for the LCMS' efforts to increase the EECMY's Lutheran identity and the work on theological education.

The EECMY has recently begun to send missionaries around the world. They do work in West Africa and Pakistan. One of the missionaries told the Council that it was not enough to leave your home but one had to be willing to lose his life for the Gospel. Over 15,000 people attended, the sending service for one of the missionary.

The EECMY had an art display at the council. Recently, some in the EECMY began to use art as a method for outreach. The triptych above shows a person fixing his eyes on the crucified Christ and turning from the riches, beauty, and power of the world.

The EECMY holds as its confessional basis that the Old and New Testaments are the Holy Word of God and the only source and only source and infallible norm of all Church doctrine and practice. The church holds to the Creeds, the Augsburg Confession and Luther's Catechisms. One of the challenges is that very few copies of either the Augsburg Confession or Luther's Catechisms can be found in Ethiopia. The lack of these confessional documents presents challenges in teaching and maintaining Lutheran identity.

Sunday worship at the mother congregation in Addis.

In the evenings, we have opportunity to enjoy meals such as kitfo with leaders from the EECMY. This provides great opportunity for further discussion.

President Hailu from Hawasa. President Hailu is finishing his course work for a DMin from Concordia Seminary in St Louis.

Emily German and Sandra Rhein who are assessing the feasibility of an Amharic hymnal project.

Posted on 21 July 2014 by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver

Location:Addis Ababa,Ethiopia

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ethiopia: MYS

(Left to Right: Dr Albert Collver, Deaconess Sandra Rhein, Emily German, Rev. Shauen Trump, Dr. Belay -- meet at Mekane Yesus Seminary)

A group from the LCMS met with leaders at the Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to discuss how the EECMY and the LCMS can work together on theological education to train future pastors. The EECMY curre you has about 3,000 pastors, and has a goal of having one pastor per congregation or 10,000 pastors over the next five years. The LCMS has committed to providing assistance in curriculum development and to provide theological educators to teach courses. For the part year the LCMS have had theological educators at MYS to assist in their programs.

These books from CPH are some of the materials used by students in the graduate study lounge at MYS. Obtaining theological study materials is one of the greatest challenges in providing theological education in not only Ethiopia but through out Africa and Latin America. The challenge lay not only in the cost of the materials but also in shipping, transport, and storage. Although the rise of electronic books and Internet resources is common place in North America and Europe, electronic resources are generally impractical or entirely unusable in Africa and other parts of the world. (The hotel where we are staying only had Internet access for a few hours yesterday.) It is not uncommon for electricity to be shut off for parts of the day. Printed books are a necessity despite the rise of electronic resources. The question in many cases is which resources to provide and how to get the materials where they are needed -- a challenge that the Chemnitz Library Initiative is trying to address.

A letter of greeting from Concordia Seminary, St Louis is presented to Dr. Belay at MYS. With now 7 regional seminaries and 40 Bible colleges in the EECMY, there is tremendous opportunity for theological education. The EECMY requested that representatives from both Concordia Seminary St Louis and Concordia Theological Seminary come to Ethiopia to discuss face to face how further collaboration could be made.

Construction on the dinning hall at Mekane Yesus Seminary continues and nears completion. Approximately, one year ago the LCMS became involved to assist in its completion.

In Ethiopia, every meeting takes place over coffee, where it was first created.

Deaconess Sandra Rhein, Beza Tefera, and Church Musician Emily German tour the MYS campus. Deaconess Sandra and Emily are visiting to explore the possibility of assisting in the development of worship materials particularly for the youth and for mission outreach. Part of the project will include the gathering of indigenous Ethiopian hymns and songs, as well as working with traditional Lutheran hymns that have been translated. Dr. Berhanu, EECMY General Secretary, stated that this project is one of the most needful items now for the EECMY.

Today we meet with other leaders of the EECMY. The next several days will be packed with activities.

-- Posted on 19 July 2014 by Dr. Albert Collver

Location:Addis Ababa,Ethiopia

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Meeting Between NRK and LCMS at International Center in St. Louis

Participants: Dr. Joel Lehenbauer (CTCR – LCMS); Dr. Albert Collver (LCMS); Shinri Emoto (General Secretary NRK); Rev. Saito (Mission Secretary NRK); Rev. Ando (Director of Disaster Relief NRK); Mr. Ando (Urawa Lutheran School NRK)

16 July 2014

Representatives from the Missouri Synod and the Japan Lutheran Church (NRK) met to discuss rekindling the the 50 plus year partnership between the two church bodies. Dr. Collver noted that the LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM) strategic plan calls for renewing and strengthening partnerships and that the discussion with the NRK could not have occurred at a more opportune time.

This past spring the NRK elected a new president, Rev. Shimizu Shin after President Kumei retired. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer attended this convention as the LCMS representative.

The Urawa high school founded by the LCMS in 1953 occupied a significant portion of the conversation. Currently, the high school has approximately 700

students. The school has out grown its facility and plans to build a new building to house more than 1000 students. The student body, only 10% of whom are Christian, is to reach the other 90% through Bible classes and daily chapel services.

In addition to the high school the NRK asked if the LCMS could send missionaries for the following work:

- A pastor for the Okinawa Lutheran Church

- A Seminary Professor in Tokyo

- Chaplain for Urawa Lutheran School

LCMS OIM agrees to begin recruiting for these positions. 

Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver

Sunday, May 4, 2014

IELB 110 Years Convention and Worship

President Matthew Harrison (translated by Rev. Gerson Lindon -- pictured above) gave the keynote presentation at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil's (IELB) 61st convention. The IELB is celebrating their 110 year as a church in Brazil. His presentation was titled, "The Challenge to Preserve Confessional Identity" based upon Martin Luther's On Counsels and the Church. The Brazilian Convention of approximately 1500 delegates have President Harrison a standing ovation.

International Lutheran Council (ILC) and other international guests greeted the IELB during the convention.

A significant moment of the Brazilian convention came when the IELB signed a protocol document with the Lutheran church in Uruguay for altar and pulpit fellowship. The IELB also
committed to doing church planting in Mozambique.

In between sessions of the IELB convention, the ILC conducted strategic planning. A significant part of the time was spent planning the next ILC World Conference to be held in South America in the fall of 2015.

Over 7,000 people who arrived by the bus load came for the worship commemorating the 110th year of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil. The choir alone numbered in the thousands. Last year the IELB had over 5,000 people attend a mission festival. This sort of attendance is reminisce of the sorts of crowds who came to events in the Missouri Synod 50 years ago.

From Brazil, we travel to Argentina to meet with the Lutheran church.

- Posted on 4 May 2014 by Dr Albert Collver using BlogPress from my iPhone


Saturday, May 3, 2014

ILC Meeting in Brazil

ILC President Hans-Jörg Voigt talks to Rev. Ted Krey, LCMS Latin American Regional Director, about the situation of the church in Latin America. The ILC Executive Committee met in Acracuz, Brazil for the 61st Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (IELB) where Rev. Egon Kopereck was re-elected as President on 2 May 2014.

The ILC Executive Committee was interviewed by press for the IELB and brought greetings. (Pictured above in top frame: Dr. Albert Collver, ILC Executive Secretary and Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee, President of the Lutheran Church Canada). Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, attended as a special guest of the ILC.

Apart from the ILC Executive Committee's regular business, it met to develop a strategic plan around the ILC's objectives.
The ILC exists for the purpose of encouraging, strengthening, and promoting confessional Lutheran theology and practice centering in Jesus Christ, both among member churches and throughout the world
▪ by providing opportunities for the joint study of contemporary theological issues.
▪ by giving mutual support and encouragement to the heads of member church bodies.
▪ by encouraging and assisting member churches in planning for mission outreach.
▪ by strengthening theological education through conferences of theologians and seminary teachers, mission staffs and those involved with human care.
▪ by facilitating communication between confessional Lutheran churches of the world through the publication of ILC News.
▪ by stimulating and facilitating the preparation and publication of confessional Lutheran literature.

The ILC Executive Committee containing representatives from around the world continues to meet in between attending the Brazilian convention. The ILC Executive Committee members (pictured above left to right): Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, ILC Executive Secretary; Archbishop Christian Ekong of the Lutheran Church of Nigeria and ILC representative for the Africa region; Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK), Chairman of ILC; President Egon Kopereck of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil and ILC representative for Latin America Region, President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS, ILC special guest; President Robert Bugbee of the Lutheran Church Canada, ILC Vice Chairman and ILC representative for the North American Region; Rev. Jon Ehlers, Chairman of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England and ILC representative of the Eurasia Region; Rev. Gijsbertus van Hattem, President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium (ELKB) and ILC Secretary; President James Cerdinõla of the Lutheran Church of the Philippines and ILC representative for the Asia Region.

- Posted on 3 May 2014 using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Rodovia ES-10,Aracruz,Brazil

Friday, April 25, 2014

+ Missionary Ed Strohschein +

This morning, President Matthew C. Harrison and the Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, director of Regional Operations for the Office of International Mission, sent the following letter to all LCMS missionaries. We offer it here in the hope that you will keep the Strohschein family as well as all of the missionaries and Office of International Mission staff who worked alongside Ed in your prayers. More details will follow in an upcoming Reporter Online story.

Dear ones,

In times like these, we, the Church, feel the miles between us profoundly. We wish we could be with you now, in the same room or at the same table, to share with you the news that the Lord has, in His infinite wisdom, seen fit to draw Ed Strohschein, business manager for the LCMS Asia Pacific region, to Himself following a marked battle with cancer.

We grieve with Ed’s wife, Shauna, and his son, John. We pray for both of them and for all his family. And we hurt with you, feeling the loss of our brother in Christ whose love of church and of God’s people was always evident.

Ed has finished his course in the faith, and a robust course it was! Ed was the son of missionaries who was born in the Philippines, went to school in the United States and returned to Asia in 1999 to serve his Lord and his church, anxious to share with those around him the good news of Christ’s grace and forgiveness. Using his keen business sense, Ed kept tabs on all things administrative and financial in that region, even assisting in the expansion of LCMS mission presence throughout the region.

And so we mourn, knowing that Ed now rests from his labors (and they were many!) and especially from a difficult past few months, even as we take joy in the promises of Christ: that we will receive Ed back on the final day and that we will spend eternity with him.

Know that each of you missionaries and your families are in our daily prayers too. The loss of a friend, a coworker, a fellow brother in Christ is trying and thorny. We will continue to check in with you, to pray for you, to ask our Lord to give you courage and faith to meet the days ahead. But we also encourage you to be in touch with us—if you would find it helpful—so that we can pray for your specific needs and can care for you as you seek to live in the joyful expectation of eternal life with Ed and with all who have departed the faith. Please remember that Ellie Corrow, missionary care coordinator, is eager to assist you in any way she can as well.

In times like these, we, the Church, feel the miles between us profoundly. We wish we could be with you now, in the same room or at the same table, to remember Ed, to comfort one another in our grief, to share in the consolation of Christ’s love and His promises. But we also know that in Christ and regardless of miles, we are already knit together into His family, His church, and that because He lives, Ed lives too.


Pastor Matt Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, director of Regional Operation, Office of International Mission

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone