The Director of church Relations for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is over in Ethiopia and visiting partner churches all over Africa. This is a picture of hospitality and folks getting ready to have coffee or tea or something.
At these meeting Rev. Colver, our Church Relations Officer sent an email saying that one of the most important church relations issues in the last 100 years was coming to a conclusion. It happened at this meeting that a formal serverance of ties between the largest “Lutheran Church” in Africa and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was finalized. The Elca issued a response a portion of which is quoted below.
The ELCA has consistently kept its Lutheran companion churches informed about the ELCA’s process that led to the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly decisions, which included the adoption of a social statement on human sexuality, said Malpica Padilla. “We shared the study documents and invited their input,” he said. “When decisions were made, we wrote to (leaders of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus) expressing our commitment to not impose our actions and to respect the policy and practice of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus in the assignment of mission personnel,” he said.
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, said the actions of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus are “deeply troubling.”
“Our own statement on human sexuality acknowledges that the position held by the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus is also held by members of the ELCA. We are not of one mind, but we are one in Christ, in faith and in baptism,” said Hanson, adding that the relationships between Lutherans in North America and in Ethiopia “has been sustained through periods of oppression, divisions within the Ethiopian church and in times of turmoil among Lutherans in North America. The action of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus church diminishes our capacity together to proclaim the good news of Jesus
Christ, to serve our neighbors and to care for the creation.
“As the ELCA, we are always standing ready to open the door of conversation for the sake of reconciliation and our shared commitment to proclamation and service,” Hanson said. “Reconciliation is not an option. It is given in Christ, and we stand ready to engage with the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus on what this gift of reconciliation might mean for us now.”
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