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French hymnal supports Lutheran work in Congo

June 13, 2016 No Comment
The publication of a French-language hymnal provides resources for congregations to hold services in French.

The publication of a French-language hymnal provides resources for congregations to hold services in French.

MONTREAL, Quebec – A hymnal—one copy of one book—has led to cross-continent support of a new independent Lutheran francophone church body in the République démocratique du Congo.

A year ago an email popped up in Montreal asking how to obtain a Lutheran Church–Canada French hymnal: Liturgies et Cantiques luthériens. It had been sent by an Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada pastor planning to return to his homeland to head a new francophone Lutheran Church. After receiving the first copy, he ordered another, which was sent with several copies of various issues of Bonne Nouvelle (Good News) magazine.

At that point, de l’Ascension, Montreal, also became the bridge between that pastor and Lutherans in Africa (LIA), an LCMS-related organization that promotes confessional teaching among African Lutheran churches, including some twenty—mostly recently established—francophone church bodies scattered throughout Africa. For several years LIA has been distributing and promoting Liturgies et Cantiques luthériens in African churches through hymnal distribution and liturgical workshops.

The pastor from the Congo was also put into contact with Lutheran Hour Ministries–Canada to receive copies of LHM–Canada’s recently-produced French language Project Connect booklets, which led to a request for LHM broadcasts in Congo.

Nine or so months went by when that same pastor wrote he was coming to Canada to fill a container with medical equipment and Lutheran educational material. A note included a word of thanks for the LIA contact, saying LIA was planning a workshop with the new African church.

A decade ago Good News magazine provided thousands of French magazines for Montreal to distribute throughout the French-speaking world as circumstances allowed. That indeed has happened—especially to Quebec, Haiti, Cameroon and Madagascar—but high transportation costs had limited large shipments overseas. Now there was free shipping through the container project and a new church that desperately needed French Lutheran materials, which are a rare item anywhere in the world. The pastor came to Montreal and left with more hymnals, hundreds of issues of Good News magazine as well as an adult instruction book (the only one ever printed anywhere in French) that had been printed 30-plus years ago in thousands of copies hoping they would be used at some opportune moment in the future.

For everything, there is a season.

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Rev. Dr. David Somers