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Oromo churches moving toward Lutheran Church–Canada

September 12, 2010 4 Comments

WINNIPEG – The “Union of Oromo Evangelical Churches in Canada” (UOECC), made up largely of immigrants from Ethiopia, is following through on a decision made last winter to affiliate more closely with Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC). The UOECC annual national conference, held September 3-5 in Winnipeg, reaffirmed this plan. LCC President Rev. Robert Bugbee and Rev. Richard Beinert, pastor of Immanuel, Winnipeg, represented LCC at the gathering.

An Oromo choir led the congregational singing

The Oromos are a large ethnic group in Ethiopia and neighbouring African states. Lutheran missionaries from Scandinavia and Germany conducted evangelistic work there in the late 1800s resulting in robust and growing Lutheran churches. The number of Oromos in Canada and the US is rising, and Oromo-language congregations are found in Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto, with new church-plants likely to develop in Halifax, Ottawa, Vancouver and elsewhere.

Since their original ties are to Scandinavia and Germany, Oromos in North America were traditionally linked to member churches of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). However, decisions by the ELCA and other LWF-member churches to introduce same-gender blessings and ordinations are causing the Oromos to move away from these longtime associations. Increasingly they are seeking ties to groups like Lutheran Church–Canada because of shared convictions about the authority of the Bible and historic Christian teaching on marriage and related subjects. This mirrors developments in Africa, where some of the world’s most rapidly-growing Lutheran churches in Ethiopia, Tanzania and the Malagasy Republic are drawing closer to The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and the International Lutheran Conference (ILC).

Keynote speaker at the Winnipeg conference was Rev. Dr. Gemechis Buba, an Oromo, and director of African missions for the ELCA’s national office in Chicago. He encouraged the Canadian Oromos’ plan to seek a home in LCC. Dr. Buba expressed very warm appreciation toward LCC for opening doors and hearts to the new immigrants.

Oromos incorporate their lively traditions of music and preaching into their services, but are eager to be rooted more deeply in the Scriptural teachings of the Lutheran Church. They have a strong emphasis on family life, and congregations spend many hours together, both in services and in the fellowship gatherings which follow—traits very evident at the national conference in Winnipeg.

A number of the Canadian Oromo congregational leaders are meeting with LCC district presidents to work through the steps necessary to become member congregations. At the same time, some Oromo leaders have enrolled in LCC’s Pastors with Alternative Training program, while others hope to enter the colloquy program to become LCC pastors under the guidance of LCC’s seminaries.

Reflecting on the warm welcome he received at the recent Oromo conference, President Bugbee noted, “I can’t help but feel that we are the first to benefit from whatever assistance we can provide our Oromo brothers and sisters. Their enthusiasm for worship, their devotion to loving relationships in their congregations, and their desire to reach out, for example, to Muslim immigrants from their part of the world with the Gospel are a real admonition to longtime Canadian Christians. I hope that LCC people living near these new Oromo congregations will find ways to encourage and involve them in the life of our Synod.”

4 Comments »

  • A. Matthews said:

    Very encouraging news indeed! We have some Ethiopian families in our congregation who are very dedicated Christians. It is good news to see how the efforts of those early Scandinavian missionaries are bearing fruit. The LCC is commended for the hand of friendship that is being extended to the Oromo.

  • dereje chala said:

    hi!! nagaa keesanii an darajjee caalaa tan jedhama kanan jiraadhu itiyoophiyaa magaala adaamaa keessa ani isin wajjiin wal qunnamuu kanaan barbaade guddina hafuura ti na gargaara jedhaa amaneeni yoo dandassan baruulee hafuuraa fi macaafa qulqulluu osoo
    teessoo kootin naaf ergitani nan jaaladha. kana malees namoota gooftaa hin argannee
    dubbii gooftaa itti himaa wanaan jiruuf wantoota garagaraatuu na barbaachisa isaanis macaafa qulquluu,barrulee hafuuraa,fi kkf afaan oromoo,amarrifa fi inglifan[ inglish] in danda’ama
    teessoon koo p.o.box 309 ethiopia adama
    mamush@downboy.com

  • Dawit Dersessa Sima said:

    This is very encouraging news. God bless everyone who involved to help this door to be opend for Oromo people. Those who live in abroad and in backhome let us stand, and work together to reach our nation with the good news of kingdom of God.

    Thanks and God bless all.

    Dawit Deressa

  • Confessional Lutherans Begin Ecumenical Dialogue « Captain Thin said:

    […] in a partnership agreement. In Canada, the Union of Oromo Evangelical Churches in Canada has begun exploring a closer association with LCC. Major Lutheran denominations in Tanzania and Madagascar are similarly looking for closer ties to […]

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