Today, on 5 February 2013, Drs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, and Mike Rodewald attended the 34th Committee of Mutual Christian Responsibility (CMCR) of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) at the Gudina Tumsa Conference Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The theme of the conference was "Environmental Engagement and Christian Responsibility."
The theme verse for the conference is Genesis 2:15. The morning began with an explanation of the theme and a study of Romans 8:19-20 by Rev. Bulti Feyisa.
In his study on Romans 8, Rev. Bulti discussed the tension between the old Adam and the restorer baptized person, and the tension in Creation caused by the sinful Adam. He pointed out that people are not the only ones who suffer in this world, but also all of creation.
He did an analysis of the so-call "new perspective" on Paul and explained how this "new perspective" was not in keeping with Lutheran theology, in particular justification by grace through faith. His study also included Law and Gospel application, as well as a distinction between the Two Kingdoms (church and state) in what each can do in terms of caring for Creation. It was an excellent study.
President Wakseyoum Idosa of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus addressed the Committee of Mutual Christian Responsibility.
In his report, President Idosa reported on the 19th general assembly of the EECMY held on 27 Jan - 2 Feb 2013, just a couple of days before the CMCR meeting.
First, President Idosa explained why the theme of the conference was "Environmental Engagement and Christian Responsibility." He said, "We live in a world where human drive has gained mastery over creation resulting in senseless exploitation of natural resources ... Our responsibility and engagement as stewards, caretakers and nurturers goes alongside with the image of God that we bear."
In his speech he noted over the course of this past year, the EECMY's membership increased to 6,012,184 and 7,840 congregations. (Note: this represents an increase in membership by slightly less than 1 million members over a three year period.) He also mentioned the implementation of a 5-year strategic plan, along with a financial update.
In a somber moment, President Idosa said, "EECMY had lived in partnership with some partners for over a century... Challenges and Changes that we encounter in out Contexts are forcing us to make decisions which are consistent with our belief about God and our biblical, theological and ethical understandings and our contexts where the church operates. One of these challenges as you all know is the controversial issue on human sexuality which has been on the agenda of the EECMY since 2006."
President Idosa then stated that the EECMY issued a "clear statement on the position of the church on this issue" in 2010. He outlined how the Council of the Church assessed this matter again in 2012 before finally bringing it to the 19th General Assembly on 27 January to 2 February 2013.
President Idosa concluded, "The decision of the Council that has been endorsed by the General Assembly will be communicated to the concerned churches on the
basis of the bilateral relations that exist between the church and concerned partners."
Although this speech prompted much discussion and questions, the EECMY leadership responded by saying, "This is all we have to say now." Then the group broke for lunch.
After lunch and coffee, presentations on the theme "Environmental Engagement and Christian Responsibility" began. A fascinating presentation noted that although Christians have been made stewards of Creation, traditional religion / pagan religion often takes better care of the environment. He pointed out that The Lord gave Christians "dominion" over the earth, not "domination."
President Hailu Yohannes of the South Central Ethiopian Synod and Dr. Collver on break between sessions at the 34th CMCR. President Hailu took Drs. Collver, Lehenbauer, and Rodewald to see southern Ethiopia in September 2013.
Tomorrow, the conference continues and will include small group sessions to discuss the conference presentations and themes.
- Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone