Strive for unity and interdependence, LWF regional leaders urged

Rev. Dr Wakseyoum Idosa addressing delegates at the LUCCEA General Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: ALCINET

LUCCEA General Assembly delegates discuss church’s role in reconciliation and peace

(LWI) The president of the Lutheran Communion in Central and Eastern Africa (LUCCEA) has called on churches in the sub-region to strive for unity in order to strengthen and sustain the church’s mission.

“There is mission for us in the sub-region which demands our unity and our interdependence despite our differences and the challenges we face in our respective contexts,” Rev. Dr Wakseyoum Idosa said in his report to the LUCCEA General Assembly, held 5-8 November in Nairobi, Kenya.

The former president of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus reminded delegates that church unity was a command from God. He said it was only when churches collaborate as part of the body of Christ that they can conduct God’s mission effectively.

The assembly takes place every four years, convening leaders of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches in eight countries in the sub-region. The 40 participants in the meeting focused on the theme “Rediscovering Our Unity, Interdependency and Diversity.”

Forgiveness and commitment

Idosa expressed gratitude to God for the resolution of hostilities between countries in the Horn of Africa, which he hoped would not only end conflict there but deepen regional integration. “Recently we witnessed the restoration of diplomatic relations among Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia, which we hope will greatly contribute to ending two decades [or more] of conflicts in the region,” he said.

Referring to his own country and neighboring Eritrea, the LUCCEA president underscored the church’s role in ensuring peace, reconciliation and justice. “A conflict which United Nations’ peacekeepers could not solve, true love, forgiveness, and commitment for peace and reconciliation can solve.” He noted it was not only the political, economic and diplomatic ties that had suffered but also the spiritual and Lutheran communion relationships.

Looking back at LUCCEA’s numerous unsuccessful attempts over the past 20 years to accompany Eritrea, he added, “In God’s Kairos, things which seem impossible for us human beings are possible for God.”

LWF Strategy 2019-2024

The main discussions included the new LWF Strategy 2019-2024, which General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge presented, encouraging LUCCEA to develop its strategic directions in line with LWF’s approach. Other speakers were the LWF Vice-President for Africa Rev. Dr Jeannette Ada Maina and area secretary for Africa Rev. Dr Elieshi Ayo Mungure.
In his keynote address, Rev. Dr Joseph Mutei of the Africa Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Kenya, said church sustainability could only be harnessed through “unity, ownership and commitment.”

He urged LUCCEA leaders to reflect on the Bible-based benefit for unity in diversity, warning that “the desire for independence rather than interdependence was evident” in the church today.

“People have gloried in their gifting without realizing that these [gifts] were made to be complete only when used in conjunction with other gifts, and when all was made for God’s glory and the edification of the other.”

At the Nairobi meeting, LUCCEA received the Moravian Church of Tanzania as the tenth member of the sub-regional body, and thanked the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania for its accompaniment.