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ILC and African Lutherans commend Ethiopian church for biblical faithfulness

February 15, 2013 One Comment

ilc-webWORLD – The International Lutheran Council (ILC) and the African Lutheran Theological Conference have sent a joint letter of support to President Wakseyoum Idosa and the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY). The EECMY recently severed ties with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Church of Sweden over issues of same-sex marriage and the ordination of practicing homosexuals into pastoral ministry.

“We want to commend and thank you for taking a stand on the Word of God,” write the signatories. “In fact, we praise the Lord that he has brought this good work to fruition in the life of your church. Your conscience-bound view that Scripture Alone is the only source of authority in deciding this matter is the view shared by the members of the International Lutheran Council.”

The EECMY is one of the largest Lutheran churches in the world, with more than 6 million members. It announced February 5 that it was severing fellowship with “those churches who have openly accepted same-sex marriage.” In 2006, both the ELCA and the Church of Sweden passed resolutions approving homosexual unions, to the dismay of the EECMY. In 2009, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to open the pastoral office to non-celibate homosexuals. The EECMY responded a year later with a letter calling on the ELCA to repent and overturn the 2009 vote “for the sake of the unity of the body of Christ, the universal Church to which all true Christians belong together.”

No response came, and so the 19th General Assembly of the EECMY (held January 27-February 2, 2013) unanimously voted to dissolve fellowship with the two churches, who they felt had abandoned the clear witness of Scripture. Official parting of ways occurred a few days later.

“We pray that the courage you displayed in standing upon the Word of God will spread to other churches in Africa,” writes the ILC in its letter, “as they struggle on how to approach historic partners who have departed from the Word of God.”

The letter was signed by ILC Chairman Hans-Jörg Voigt (Bishop of the Independent Evangelical—Lutheran Church of Germany) and Executive Secretary, Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, III. Co-signers included the participants of the African Lutheran Theological Conference (held February 12-15 in Ghana):

  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Guinea Conokry
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Burkina Faso
  • Lutheran Communities Church of Congo
  • Antananarivo Synod of the Malagasy Lutheran Church (Madagascar)
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Congo
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ivory Coast
  • Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church Sierra Leone
  • Lutheran Church Mission in Uganda
  • Lutheran Church of Togo
  • Lutheran Church of East Africa (Tanzania)

The International Lutheran Council is a worldwide organization of confessional Lutheran church bodies and includes:

  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium
  • Christian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bolivia
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil
  • Lutheran Church–Canada
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Republic of Chile
  • Lutheran Church—Hong Kong Synod
  • China Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Denmark
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church—Synod of France and Belgium
  • Independent Evangelical—Lutheran Church of Germany
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana
  • Lutheran Church of Guatemala
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti
  • India Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • Japan Lutheran Church
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya
  • Lutheran Church in Korea
  • Lutheran Synod of Mexico
  • Lutheran Church of Nigeria
  • Gutnius Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of Paraguay
  • Lutheran Church in the Philippines
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of Portugal
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia
  • Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa
  • Lutheran Church in Southern Africa
  • Lanka Lutheran Church
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of England
  • Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
  • American Association of Lutheran Churches
  • Lutheran Church of Venezuela
  • Lutheran Church of Australia
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Peru

Additional information on the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus’ decision to end fellowship with the ELCA and the Church of Sweden can be found in this LCMS Reporter story. The ILC’s original letter can be viewed here. Read the EECMY’s official announcement at the link here.

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