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Confessional Lutherans in Africa hold historic meeting
In this issue: Synodical Council update, Outreach coordinator call accepted, Register for learning opportunities, Another international youth rally
During the week of April 16 representatives of five Lutheran synods in Africa gathered at the Lutheran Seminary in Lusaka, Zambia, for a regional meeting of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference. The five Lutheran church bodies in Africa, all in fellowship with WELS, are the Lutheran Church of Central Africa (Zambia Synod), the Lutheran Church of Central Africa (Malawi Synod) , All Saints Lutheran Church and Christ the King Lutheran Synod in Nigeria, and the Lutheran Church of Cameroon.
The meeting was an historic event, marking the first time representatives from the five African sister synods have met together in person. While representatives from Zambia and Malawi have previously attended meetings of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference, delegates from Nigeria and Cameroon have rarely been granted visas to join those meetings. An all-Africa regional meeting of the synods provided a vital opportunity for the leaders of these church bodies to get to know each other and to discuss the blessings and challenges confronting the Lutheran churches in Africa.
WELS was represented at the conference by President Mark Schroeder, Rev. Dan Koelpin (administrator of WELS World Missions), Rev. Robert Hein (chairman of WELS Christian Aid and Relief), Rev. James Werner (a member of the Administrative Committee for Africa), Rev. Ken Cherney (professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary), and Rev. Doug Weiser (WELS liaison to Nigeria).
Prior to the conference in Zambia, the WELS representatives stopped in the neighboring country of Malawi. There they met with national leaders of the Malawi Synod and visited the Lutheran Bible Institute (where Zambian and Malawian men studying for the pastoral ministry receive their first three years of instruction). They also visited one of the four mobile medical clinics operated by the Central Africa Medical Mission and met with six WELS missionaries serving in Malawi, together with their families.
Once in Zambia, the WELS representatives met with leaders of the Zambia Synod, visited several bush congregations, spent time with WELS missionaries and their families, and traveled to the original WELS mission compound and medical clinic in Mwembezhi.
The natural beauty of Zambia and Malawi is striking. But even more impressive is the way God has blessed the spread of the gospel in Africa. In both Zambia and Malawi thriving national churches have grown from the original WELS mission efforts begun in the 1950s and 1960s. The Malawi Synod has approximately 45,000 members and Zambia has more than 10,000; both are growing. Each synod has more than 100 congregations and more than 25 fully trained national pastors. While both synods still receive financial assistance through the WELS Board for World Missions, they are making good progress toward the goal of financial and theological self-sufficiency. Most of the WELS missionaries in Zambia and Malawi no longer serve as pastors of congregations but are instead serving as mission counselors and teachers at the Lutheran Bible Institute in Malawi and the Lutheran Seminary in Zambia. God’s blessings on the gospel proclamation in Africa are evident, not only in the growth in numbers but also in the continuing growth in the spiritual strength and maturity of our brothers and sisters in these confessional Lutheran church bodies.
Serving in Christ,
Check out pictures from the trip.