Canadian church represented at Ethiopian conference
Two pastors from Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) will attend an international Theological and Mission Conference conducted by the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), an Oromo Lutheran church body.
Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel, LCC’s mission executive and Rev. Marvin Ziprick (Bethel, Sherwood Park, Alberta) are travelling to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the event. Dr. Neitzel is the official representative of President Robert Bugbee and will participate in a panel discussion as part of the conference. The two Canadian pastors join 42 others from North America. Organizers expect attendance to reach 2000 including representatives from Europe.
“We are deeply grateful for the invitation of our Oromo friends to get involved with this conference,” said President Bugbee. “Our relationship with Oromo pastors and congregations in Canada is steadily maturing. This conference will help us find out what is important to them, and, at the same time, is an open door for our synod to give witness as a Lutheran church guided and shaped by God’s Word and our confessions.”
The conference, February 15-17, will explore three major themes: the theological identity and moral position of the church; key factors propelling dynamism and growth; and missional leadership and the church’s vision for mission.
Dr. Neitzel noted that the Christian church in Ethiopia is one of the oldest in the world and is the fastest growing Lutheran church today. “They are now reaching out to beyond their African geographical boundaries,” he noted. “They are here in Canada, in our communities and want to reach out to their own people in our country as well as in Africa.”
Like many African church bodies the EECMY is struggling to understand the non-biblical, non-confessional drift of Western Lutheran churches especially regarding sexuality. Earlier this year the Ethiopian church called upon the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a long-time partner church, to repent of its stance on same-sex marriage and the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals.
The program for the conference explains, “As EECMY positions herself to courageously face the 21st century deeply grounded on Biblical and confessional orthodoxy to do evangelical mission this conference opens a new era for Africa’s explicit commitment to do mission work around the world in partnership with biblically faithful church bodies.”
During its September meeting in Winnipeg, the Union of Oromo Evangelical Churches in Canada decided to establish a closer relationship with Lutheran Church–Canada.