Strengthen communion by working more closely together

Bishop Dr Ruben Ngozo, center, LWF Area Secretary for Africa, Rev. Dr Elieshi Mungure, to his left, and LWF Vice President for Africa, Rev. Dr Jeannette Ada Epse Maina, second from right, outside the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon. Photo: LWF

Cameroon churches encouraged to collaborate on mission, diakonia and training for the ministry.

(LWI) - The Lutheran communion in Cameroon would be strengthened if its two member churches worked more closely together, say Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Vice President for Africa, Rev. Dr Jeannette Ada Epse Maina, and LWF Area Secretary for Africa, Rev. Dr Elieshi Mungure. The two women recently visited the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon and the Church of the Lutheran Brethren of Cameroon (CLBC).

Their common message came in the form of an invitation to the two churches to think together about their potential in the region, if they worked to address common issues on mission, evangelism, diakonia, theology and training for the ministry.

Rev. Dr Ada Epse Maina said that if this translated into action, the two churches would not only grow for the development of Christians in Cameroon but also for the development of the whole communion. The LWF would feel honored if the two forged greater collaboration.

The two churches are the largest LWF member churches in francophone Africa.

“The LWF visit to the two member churches has sparked a new spirit of unity and collaboration in us. Now our prayer is that the Lord will water the seed that has been planted and that all that has been discussed,” Rev. Dr Ada Epse Maina said.

In one example of collaboration, the two churches are part of the production group of Radio Sawtu Linjiila, which has broadcast for over 50 years as the mission to the Fulani population in Cameroon and Central Africa Republic. It promotes culture, health and hygiene and the general well-being of its target audience through radio messages.

Men and women working together in ordained ministry

In her visit to the churches, Rev. Dr Mungure expressed her hope that the Lutheran churches in Africa would continue to equally support women and men in their calling to ministry as ordained and lay ministers, and to nurture the Lutheran understanding of the priesthood of all believers.

In Garoua, north Cameroon, the two women worshipped with the members of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren of Cameroon and preached, at the invitation of church president Rev. Goyek. It was the first time women pastors had preached in this church as the church is yet to ordain women for the ministry of word and sacrament.

In his words of gratitude, Rev. Goyek said, “the image of women preaching in this church for the first time will remain forever engraved in the memories of the faithful members of the CLBC and revive the discussion on the ordination of women.”

On the topic of women in the ordained ministry, Rev. Dr Mungure said, “God's best time for men, women and children of this church to work together in the service for Christ is coming.”

Some member churches in Africa have been ordaining women for more than 30 years and can have 200 to 300 women pastors per church, she said. She encouraged the Church of the Lutheran Brethren of Cameroon to permit women pastors, in order that the church could harvest the gifts of all children of God.

The LWF Area Secretary met women pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon, saying she appreciated the fact the church had already ordained women, even though they are still few in number compared to some other countries in the continent. “It is a good start.”

The church has ordained eleven women, so far. She encouraged them to keep working hard and use the opportunity to invite others to the ministry by visiting the young women in schools, for example. The church must make the effort to identify vocations for women and encourage women to study theology.

"To be church together"

During this visit, Rev. Goyek and Bishop Dr Ruben Ngozo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon, expressed their gratitude for the LWF and other partners including the Norwegian Missionary Society and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for coming to them during a time of crisis. Refugees are entering Cameroon fleeing Boko Haram and the Central African Republic. The visitors offered support, particularly to refugees and other displaced people.

“We thank the LWF for the collaboration to support the refugees together. We helped the refugees with a food truck in collaboration with the Cameroonian state and we will continue in this direction to share our joys and our sorrows,” said bishop Ngozo

The two churches appreciated the theme of a discussion, “to be church together". Rev. Dr Elieshi encouraged the church leaders to seek ways to be church together, noting that no-one could do the work of the ministry alone.



Contributed by David Adjia of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon, a member of the African Lutheran Communications Network, ALCINET. Edited by LWF Communications.