Search This Blog

Saturday, August 18, 2012

From Tanzania To Kenya -- Meeting with Church Leaders

Nairobi to Moshi 2012-08-18 at 2.40.20 PM.png

Yesterday, we began the drive back from Moshi, Tanzania, to Arusha, Tanzania, back to Nairobi, Kenya. The scenery changed from the foot hills of Kilimanjaro, to the Mara / Serengeti which was very dry, to the hills of Nairobi. 

Visit to Lutheran Center in Arusha

In Arusha, Tanzania, we stopped at the Lutheran Centre, the headquarters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT), to pay our respects to the leadership there, and to inform them that the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Lutheran Church of East Africa (LCEA) were in discussions with one another. Bishop Alex Malasusa was not in Arusha when we visited. In fact, he was headed to Moshi, from where we just came. In Moshi, we did have an opportunity to meet with Rev. Ambele Mwaipopo, who is in charge of Mission and Evangelism for the ELCT. Mwaipopo also is responsible for ecumenical dialogs. In Arusha, we met with Brighton Killewa, the Secretary General of the ELCT, pictured above with Dr. Albert Collver and Rev. Shauen Trump.

View along the highway between Tanzania and Kenya.

From the highway between Arusha and Nairobi, we saw a compound for Chinese road workers. For the past decade, China has been investing heavily in Africa, and building the infrastructure such as roads to make it easier to remove raw materials from Africa for shipment to China. Some Chinese men also see Africa as the solution to the shortage of marriageable women in China. The arrival of the Chinese in Africa has created a mixed response with Africans, tending toward the negative. When we asked Church leaders where Chinese people could be found, the answer given was “on their compound.” The people we spoke to indicated that the Chinese laborers typically had little to do with the Africans. The average term of service for a Chinese worker in Africa is between 18 and 24 months before returning home to China. We asked several African church leaders were regarding the possibility of evangelism outreach toward the Chinese. The responses varied but ranged from a giggle to sure anything is possible (if you can get on the compound). One church leader said that the Chinese in Africa, which are estimated to be between 750,000 and 1 million divided among several African nations, are not a primary focus right now. He said the real challenge is Islam.

Mosque between Tanzania and Kenya

Pictured above is a mosque on the highway between Nairobi, Kenya, and Arusha, Tanzania. Along one stretch of highway between Kenya and Tanzania, sometimes literally in the middle of no where, one can find a mosque. Many of these mosques are built along the highway on Maasai land. It is not clear if the mosques are even used. In some cases, we were told other than the guard, the mosque remains empty. However, the thought behind building mosques in these remote locations is that eventually they will serve people.

Tamambo - Karen Blixen Coffee Garden

Back in Nairobi, Kenya, we met for lunch at the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden. Karen Blixen authored the book Out of Africa. It was quite a treat to visit this place made famous by the book and movie. For lunch, the Rev. John Halahke, General Secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya, joined us.

After lunch, Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations, presented Rev. John Halahke, General Secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya, with a Swahili Book of Concord. General Secretary Halahke said that he had heard about the Swahili Book of Concord but had not seen it until presented to him as a gift from the LCMS.

In the video above, Rev. John Halahke briefly speaks to the importance of the Swahili Book of Concord. The trip to Tanzania and Kenya was very good. We look forward to seeing the fruits of this trip. - Posted on 18 August 2012 by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations

Thursday, August 16, 2012

First Lutherans in Tanzania -- Leipzig Mission in Shadow of Kilimanjaro

Some of you may be wondering how Lutherans came to Tanzania. Lutherans first arrived in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania in 1836, sent by the Leipzig Mission Society. Around the this time in the 19th century, European Churches typically did not send missionaries from the State church. As a result pious lay people and pastors formed mission societies to send "missionaries" to the jheathen. Bible Societies also formed during this period. In fact, the LCMS was built in part by the mission society efforts of Wilhelm Loehe. Article VI of the Missouri Synod's Constitution prohibits work with "heterodox tract and mission societies." The first and immediate context of this for Dr. C.F.W. Walther would have been mission societies like the Leipzig Mission Society.

The sign says "Jesus is the Victor." Other parts of Tanzania were settled by other mission societies -- from Scandinavia etc. The Leipzig Mission Society introduced a liturgy from the Leipzig Agenda, Which was based off the Saxon Agenda used by Walther. Thus the Tanzanian Lutherans around Kilimanjaro have a liturgy very similar to the Missouri Synod.

A Lutheran Church of East Africa congregation in the foothills of Kilimanjaro.

Sun setting against Mount Meru, from grounds of the Leipzig Mission Society in the foot hills (1 mile elevation) of Kilimanjaro.

Rev. Dr Collver on 16 August 2012

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Kilimanjaro Rd,Moshi,Tanzania

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

LCEA Examines New ELCK Hymnal

When we arrived in Mdawi parish, I had the opportunity to show a draft copy of the forthcoming ELCK Swahili hymnal.

The bishop and pastors immediately began singing the liturgy from it.

YouTube Video

The bishop and pastors made excited comments to each other in Swahili. Occasionally, a comment in English would emerge -- "Good," "I like that."

Rev. Shauen Trump pictured with the bishop.

Dr Mike Rodewald asked if the hymnal was similar to others. The bishop said,"It is the Leipzig liturgy. This is good."

After examining the hymnal, the Bishop asked when will it be available? We could use this.

- Poster on 15 August 2012 by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Arusha - Himo Rd,,Tanzania

The "Good" Church - A Visit Between the Lutheran Church East Africa and LCMS

Bishop Jesse Angowi of the Lutheran Church of East Africa (LCEA) requests closer ties to the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) near Moshi, Tanzania. The Lutheran Church of East Africa was formed in the shadow of Kilimanjaro in 1999.

In the car ride between churches, a discussion of "Missouri" emerged. "Missouri" to a Swahili speaker sounds like "Mzuri" / "Nzuri" which means "good." Bishop Angowi said, "When we hear Missouri Synod, we hear 'good' church." He said the Missouri Synod is a good church because it holds the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions. He also said Missouri Synod is a good church because it does not support the liberal agenda other churches support.

Dr. Collver presents Bishop Angowi with the Book of Concord in Swahili.

Bishop Angowi distributes The Book of Concord to his pastors. The pastors noted that they had used a different version of the Book of Concord in Swahili before receiving their own copy recently published by Lutheran Heritage Foundation. Apparently, the Germans previously ha translated it. The pastors were very pleased to receive a copy.

Later in the day, a gift was presented to President Harrison, "African Cake." Bishop Angowi said we needed to decide what to do with the gift. We could wrap it up and take it to President Harrison if we wished. After a brief consultation, we decided that TSA and US Customs would not allow us to return with a roasted goat, so we suggested that we all enjoy the "African Cake" together.

Bishop Angowi served Rev. Shauen Trump the "African Cake."

The women who prepared the food sent greetings to the women of the Missouri Synod.

As we traveled to different churches, we stopped at a mine, where volcanic rocks are quarried with mâchés. At the mine, we discovered an orphanage for children.

The pastors of the Lutheran Church in East Africa prayed with the children. We also saw a turtle that was able to entertain the children. We asked if the turtle was food for the children. With a somewhat puzzled, then amused face, the pastor replied, "No. We do not eat turtle -- the Chinese do." Recently, many Chinese have entered Tanzania to build roads for Chinese companies to more easily export natural resources. The Chinese road crews live in Chinese camps and have little interaction with the Tanzanians. A positive contribution has been greatly improved roads. A negative is that none of this has created new jobs for Tanzanians, as the Chinese companies import all their workers from China. Because the Chinese live in self-contained camps, there has not been opportunity for the churches in Tanzania to evangelize the Chinese workers.

On the wall of the mine, a miner had carved in Swahili, "Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life."

At the mine a worker carries volcanic rock.

Bishop Angowi said without the mine for volcanic rock, his churches could not afford to build churches because cement blocks are too expensive.

The back of the church.

We also visited St Peter Theological Seminary. Today and tomorrow we visit parishes in the shadow of and on the slope of Kilimanjaro.

- Posted 15 August 2012 by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Moshi, Tanzania

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lutheran Witness at Uhuru Highway Lutheran Hotel

A Lutheran Witness from September 2011 greeted Dr. Mike Rodewald, LCMS Africa Regional Director, entered his room at the Uhuru Highway Lutheran Hotel and Conference Center in Moshi, Tanzania. Dr. Rodewald was so excited to see the Lutheran Witness in his room that he shouted, "Al, come and see, the Lutheran Witness is in my room!" I came to see him holding a Lutheran Witness. He then said people will probably think we planted it, but no it is true, it was here. We can only speculate how it came to Tanzania, but it is nice to know, the Lutheran Witness has even reached the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in Moshi, Tanzania.

The view of Kilimanjaro from my room at the Uhuru Road Lutheran Hotel and Conference Center.

- Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations on 13 August 2012 from Moshi, Tanzania.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Kilimanjaro Rd,Moshi,Tanzania

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Presentation of Swahili Book of Concord to Archbishop Obare

This evening we - Dr. Collver, Dr. Rodewald, Rev. Trump -- had the opportunity to visit with Archbishop Obare at his home in Nairobi, Kenya. As a gift, we were able to present Archbishop Obare with a copy of Kitabu Cha Mwafaka, that is, the Book of Concord in Swahili.

Although Archbishop Obare was aware of the Book of Concord project in Swahili, this is the first time he had seen it. The Book of Concord was translated into Swahili by Lutheran Heritage Foundation. The ELCK's seminary hopes to make use of the Swahili Book of Concord in the future.

The Augsburg Confession in Swahili.

- Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations on 12 August 2012.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Langata Rd,Nairobi,Kenya

Nairobi Kenya Visit

Last evening I arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, from Helsinki, Finland, via Amsterdam. This morning, the LCMS mission team that lives in East Africa gathered for worship at the Uhuru Highway Lutheran Cathedral of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK).

Although the Uhuru Highway Cathedral was dedicated in 2005, the congregation has been in this location since 1980.

The cathedral is on the campus of Luther Plaza, which serves as the headquarters of the ELCK and as office space for paying tenants.

Before the service, Archbishop Walter Obare met with Drs. Albert Collver and Mike Rodewald. Archbishop Obare stated that it was extremely important for the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) to uphold the teachings of the Scriptures and to promote the Lutheran Confessions worldwide. He said the LCMS' witness to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions is particularly encouraging for churches like the ELCK.

Dr. Mike Rodewald, Rev. Fred Reinhardt, Dr. Collver talk about French speaking West Africa before the service. Although Rev. Fred Reinhardt lives within walking distance of the Uhuru Highway Cathedral, he primarily works in West Africa among French speakers.

Rev. Isaiah Obare is one of the pastors at Uhuru Highway Cathedral. He led the service. Dr. Collver preached on John 6:35-51, which is the Gospel reading for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost. Dr. Collver paraphrasing Martin Luther noted how strange it must been for the crowd to have seen Jesus say, "I am the bread from heaven," when in his own poverty Jesus appeared to need hand outs for himself. It seemed impossible for Jesus to feed anyone -- To be the bread from heaven -- let alone to give them eternal life. Martin Luther said, "Jesus Himself speaks of His poverty in Matt. 8:20: 'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.' But in spite of this He can answer: 'I am the bread,' declaring here that He would teach, satisfy, feed, and preserve the entire world, prevent its death by starvation, and give it life. Though He Himself does not have a crust of bread to eat, He offers to become physician and helper to others."

The choir sang during the service.

The service at the Uhuru Highway Cathedral followed Lutheran Service Book (LSB) for its International English Service.

After the service the LCMS missionaries who live in East Africa gathered for a group shot.

Rev. Shauen Trump with his children and wife Krista, Dr. Mike Rodewald (LCMS Africa Regional Director), Dr. Albert Collver (LCMS Director of Church Relations), Rev. Fred Reinhardt.

Rev. Shauen Trump is the facilitator for East Africa. The hospitality that both he and his wife have shown is outstanding. Tomorrow we travel to Tanzania.

- Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations, posted on 12 August 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Langata Rd,Nairobi,Kenya

Friday, August 10, 2012

In Helsinki, LCMS Professors, Pastors Focus On Luther

In Helsinki, LCMS Professors, Pastors Focus On Luther
By Kim Plummer Krull

While members of Celebration Lutheran Church in St. Johns, Fla., might assume that the scholarly papers presented at the 12th International Congress for Luther Research in Helsinki, Finland, would have no impact on them, their pastor suggests otherwise.

"My eyes certainly have been opened up to what people around the world are doing with Reformation studies in new ways," said the Rev. Jason Lane, Celebration's pastor and one of more than 200 theologians, professors and pastors from around the globe taking part in the conference, Aug. 5-10. "I'm getting a lot of helpful illustrations and images from Luther's writings for sermons."

Lane, who is working on his dissertation on Luther's interpretation of the book of James, was one of some 14 LCMS pastors and professors at the gathering. Several made presentations. During a conference break, LCMS colleagues took a moment to talk about the importance of the congress, held every five years to spotlight writings and translation projects on the life and works of the 16th century Reformation leader.

Although Luther is most closely identified with the birth of the Lutheran church, members of a variety of denominations -- including Roman Catholic, Methodist and Mennonite -- were among the participants, said the Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III, director of Church Relations and assistant to LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison.

"All the Protestant churches in the world owe their existence to Martin Luther, even if they don't follow all his teachings by the book," said Collver, who gave a sectional presentation titled "Luther's Invocavit Sermons as Law and Gospel."

Dr. Gerhard H. Bode Jr., assistant professor of Historical Theology and archivist at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, said the conference "offers an opportunity to hear about current trends in Luther studies and helps equip us for future research, writing and teaching. It's also a good reminder that Luther's Gospel message and, with it, the Lutheran heritage are not to be taken for granted."

Hosted by the University of Helsinki, the congress explored the theme, "Luther as Teacher and Reformer of the University."

For LCMS professors in attendance, the conference was "an opportunity to interact with Luther scholars from around the world and exchange each other's insights on Luther and his theology in his historical context," said Dr. Naomichi Masaki, associate professor of Systematic Theology at Concordia Theological Seminary (CTS), Fort Wayne, Ind.

"It is always important to understand aright doctrine that Luther was given to believe, confess and teach," Masaki continued. "As we theologians deepen our grasp of Luther's theology, we pray that what we teach at the seminaries and in the congregations may have evangelical contributions to form servants in Jesus Christ who teach the faithful, reach the lost and care for all."

While the Rev. Juhana Pohjola, a pastor and dean of the Lutheran Foundation Finland (LFF), was pleased the congress drew participants from around the globe to his homeland to focus on Luther, he said the gathering also "reveals the great struggle over the heritage of Luther and the many different opinions that can be heard."

Prior to the congress, Pohjola took part in a three-day Luther seminar presented by Masaki and LCMS colleagues for pastors with the LFF, a young and growing confessional Lutheran church body. Pohjola and several fellow pastors graduated from the CTS Master of Sacred Theology program.

"It was wonderful to see there's a living church body that takes seriously its confessional foundation," Pohjola said of the LCMS.

"We [Finland] have the same foundation, but it's now more part of past tradition than everyday life. But we are growing," Pohjola said of the LFF, which has blossomed from one congregation to 30 with several thousand total members over the past 15 years.

As the congress drew to a close, Collver reflected on how "people tend toward different hermeneutical approaches to texts: such as a literal and historical reading to a revisionist approach that looks to what (in this case) Luther said in his day and ponders how he might have said it differently today."

"For instance, some hold to how the proper distinction between Law and Gospel was a major consideration for Luther's approach, while others believe there are new and better paradigms to Law and Gospel, such as two kinds of righteousness ... ," Collver said on the Witness, Mercy, Life Together blog ( "Dr. Mark Mattes' [associate professor of Religion and Philosophy, Grand View University] paper, 'Luther's Use of Philosophy,' held that the proper distinction between Law and Gospel governed Luther's appropriation and use of philosophy."

Attendance at this congress was reportedly among the largest in recent years. The Rev. John T. Pless, assistant professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions at CTS, is not surprised. "The voice of Luther is still a captivating and intriguing voice to Christians across the world," he said.

Even non-Christians are drawn to Luther's writing, Pless added, even though they don't really understand what it's all about.

The strong congress turnout also signals that "world Lutheranism is gearing up for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017," Pless said. "It's another reason to look forward to a very robust celebration of the anniversary in Wittenberg, Germany."

Not so coincidentally, the next International Luther Congress is set for 2017 in Wittenberg.

Other LCMS leaders at the International Lutheran Congress included the Rev. Dr. Roland Ziegler of CTS; the Rev. Dr. Timothy Dost, the Rev. Dr. Erik Hermann, the Rev. Dr. Robert Kolb, the Rev. Dr. Paul Robinson, the Rev. Dr. Robert Rosin, the Rev. Dr. William Schumacher -- all of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis; Dr. Christopher Brown, associate professor of Church History, Boston University; and the Rev. Jonathan Mumme, international tutor, Westfield House, Cambridge, England.

Kim Plummer Krull is a freelance writer and a member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Des Peres, Mo.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Conclusion of Luther Congress

Luther Congress delegates listen to plans about the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Wittenberg, Germany, in 2017. The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), which the LCMS is not a member, has been making plans for the 2017 celebration, as have the German Protestant Churches. The 13th International Congress for Luther Studies will be held in Wittenberg, Germany, in 2017.

On of the emphases of the Luther 2017 celebration is that Luther and his message is for the entire world, not just one confession (i.e. Lutherans) or one people (Germans). In a broad sense this is true. The message of the Gospel that Luther proclaimed is for all people and is not limited to a nation or cultural group. The broad promotion of Luther tends toward minimizing confessional differences and glosses over the particular Lutheran Confession of Faith found in the Book of Concord.

One of the ways, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the churches in Germany decided to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation was to plant a Luthergarten in the shape of a Luther Rose. Each church body that participated, planted a tree in the name of the church with a Bible passage. The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod did participate in the Luthergarten. You can see the LCMS' contribution here.

Tree #139

Species: Sorbus aria 'Magnifica' - 'Mehlbeere'
Godfather: Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, United States of America
Planted by Reverend Samuel Nafzger
Members: 2.489.000
Bishop: Präsident Rev. Matthew Harrison
biblical vote: John 15, 5: "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

The LCMS through the International Luther Society of Wittenberg (ILSW) is planning a Luther study center and guest / welcome center in Wittenberg at the Old Latin School across from the City Church, where Luther preached (pictured above). It is hoped the center will be completed in time for the 2017 celebration. The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) also has established a center in Wittenberg, called LWB-Zentrums.

Marta Lane and Rev. Jason Lane are with Dr. Prof. Oswald Bayer, one of the foremost Luther scholars alive today. The International Congress for Luther Studies provides the opportunity to visit and discuss Luther scholarship. Both Rev. Dr. Roland Zeigler of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne and Rev. Jonathan Mumme of Westfield House in Cambridge, England, studied under Dr. Bayer.

Dr. Gerhard Bode from Concordia Seminary St Louis, Dr. Christopher Brown, Associate Professor of History at Boston University, LCMS church member and general editor to CPH's Luther's Works, and Dr. Albert Collver discuss Martin Luther's doctrine of creation and his "heroic prayer" for Melanchthon.

Delegates listening to one of the final lectures at the 12th International Congress for Luther Studies.

The time in Helsinki at the 12th International Congress for Luther Studies has been very good and profitable. The conversation among scholars is very helpful in that the "topics" chosen for Luther research are a reflection of societal challenges. Luther scholars reach back into the writings of Martin Luther to seek enlightenment on contemporary issues. A popular word at the Luther Congress was "re-Contextualization." As with the US Constitution and the Holy Scriptures, people tend toward different hermeneutical approaches to texts: such as a literal and historical reading to a revisionist approach that looks to what (in this case) Luther said in his day and ponders how he might have said it differently today. For instance, some hold to how the proper distinction between Law and Gospel was a major consideration for Luther's approach, while others believe there are new and better paradigms to Law and Gospel, such as two kinds of righteousness. For example, Dr. Christine Helmer presented on "Teaching Theology with Luther." She held that Luther's distinction between Law and Gospel falls "flat footed" in the modern age. In contrast, Dr. Mark Mattes' paper, "Luther's Use of Philosophy," held that the proper distinction between Law and Gospel governed Luther's appropriation and use of philosophy. Dr. Mattes said,"At best, philosophy can function as a third use of the Law. At worst, it can destroy faith."

The lectures, sectionals, and conversations were very stimulating and helpful for further thought and discussion.

- Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations on 10 August 2012 in Helsinki, Finland.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad