Cambodian church president’s message to fellow Lutherans

Dear all Lutheran brethren in the Lord,

Greetings to you in the blessed name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus.

I would like to share with you the very exciting and blessed moment of the LISA students’ graduation and ordination of Lutheran pastors in Cambodia.

Pastor Vanarith Chhim, president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cambodia addresses the church gathered for its first ordination and commissioning service.

In the record of church history, Lutheran teaching has travelled a long way since its birth in the 16th Reformation. But in Cambodia, Lutheran teaching is new. When Rev. Ted Na Thalang first arrived in Cambodia to introduce the Lutheran teaching with the plan to produce Lutheran materials through translation and publications, there was a very small group of Christians who knew about Lutheran teaching. In 2003, the first edition of Luther’s Small Catechism was translated into Khmer (Cambodian language) under title Basic Teaching of Christian Doctrine. Many Christians (most grounded in Reform teaching) started to use this book to help their church members grow in their faith. At this point the Lutheran spirit of teaching was born to many hearts of Christians. But there were no Lutheran churches and Bible institutes for more training in Cambodia until 2007, when LISA (Luther Institute Southeast Asia) launched its training program for the local pastors in Cambodia. At that point, my pastors begin to like Lutheran teaching— sound and biblical teaching focused on Christ at the centre.

With guidance from Rev. Ted Na Thalang, instructors for LISA, and Rev. Dr. Leonard V. Harms, LISA director, many local pastors who trained with LISA and have been convicted to the Lutheran confession, showed their desire to start a Lutheran Church body. With help, prayer, and support from Lutheran brethren and a gift from the Garuna Foundation, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cambodia (ELCC) was born with permission and registration from the government on January 14, 2009 under the Ministry of Interior as a local non-government organization. On July 7, 2009 the Ministry of Religion recognized the church body under the name of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cambodia (ELCC).

 On May 14, 2010, after two and half years of training, LISA completed its first seminary session with a graduation of 33 students. At that same moment, ELCC decided to elect and call Pastor Vanarith, who has completed LISA training, to receive ordination to be the president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cambodia with the ordination officiated by  Rev. Dr. Harms under the permission and blessing from Rev. Robert Bugbee, president of Lutheran Church–Canada. Further, sixteen Lutheran Pastors and 8 deaconesses graduated from LISA and received calls and commissions for Lutheran congregations across Cambodia.
As the president of ELCC and on behalf of LISA students, I would like to extend my gratitude and thankful heart first to our Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sin, and to brethren in faith who help to support with much prayer and love for us to grow in faith with you as Lutheran pastors and churches in Cambodia.

Blessing to you,
Rev. Vanarith Chhim
President of ELCC.

Posted By: Matthew Block
Posted On: May 20, 2010
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