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Cheers arise for new Ethiopian-Canadian partnership

February 14, 2011 One Comment

By James Morgan

More than 10,000 Ethiopian Lutheran Christians gathered in Addis Ababa February 12-13.

The new partnership between Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) and the Oromo language congregations in Canada was publicly announced February 13 at the Ilaamee Mission Conference of the International Oromo Mission and Cultural Convention in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. 

“The audience cheered in appreciation upon hearing about LCC and Canadian Oromos establishing a partnership in the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Canada and Ethiopia,” reports Rev. Leonardo Neitzel, who is responsible for LCC’s overseas mission and Pastors with Alternate Training programs. He and Rev. Marv Ziprick, a Sherwood Park, Alberta pastor who works with an Oromo congregation in Edmonton, and leaders of that city’s Oromo community attended the song-filled Sunday service, along with more than 10,000 others. 

The partnership, first agreed upon in September 2010, results from Ethiopian concerns over the drift away from biblical and confessional orthodoxy on matters of sexuality in other branches of Lutheranism.  The Ethiopian church has called on the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, an organization with which it had close ties, to repent of its stance on same-sex marriage and the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals.  “As we welcome the Oromo communities into the fellowship of Lutheran Church–Canada, we thank and praise the Lord for the tremendous service Ethiopian Lutherans have undertaken for the sake of the Gospel,” Rev. Neitzel says.

Nine evangelists were commissioned

There are 5.4 million members of the Mekane Yesus Church.  Oromo and Amharic are the two largest of the approximately 83 different language groups in Ethiopia.  During the February 13 service, nine young adults were commissioned as evangelists.  Rev. Ziprick noted that “they are being sent to parts of Ethiopia where the Gospel has not been heard.”  “[The Oromo Lutherans] show a strong understanding of, and affection for the Word of God and to sharing it through music, singing, and repeating key Bible verses through praise songs,” remarked Rev. Neitzel, noting a song based on Isaiah 40:28-31; “I love you, my Lord, because you are my strength and my protection.” 

Dr. Neitzel and new friends from a children's choir which participated in the service.

Foreign Lutheran leaders attending the conference also attended a meeting with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi who highlighted the economic and social progress the country is making.  “He also mentioned about the freedom of religion in his country and about the strong presence of Christians and the Lutheran contribution,” Rev. Neitzel reported.

While in Ethiopia, Rev. Ziprick and Rev. Neitzel will also attend a theological conference with 2,000 Oromo pastors and representatives from Lutheran Church bodies in Africa, Europe, and North America.

Full reports from Rev. Dr. Neitzel and Rev. Ziprick are at www.lccontheroad.ca

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