The following is a joint Nov. 15 press release from the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
Representatives and leaders from the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) met Nov. 10-13 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the Mekane Yesus Seminary, the EECMY headquarters, and the Gudina Tumsa Wholistic Training Center to discuss the relationship between the two church bodies, revise an extended working agreement and make plans to strengthen theological education within the Mekane Yesus Church by creating a relationship between the two church bodies’ seminaries.
This round of discussions was the result of a January 2014 meeting in Addis Ababa between LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison and the Rev. Dr. Wakseyoum Idosa, president of the EECMY.
The recent meeting for discussions included the following for the EECMY: President Wakseyoum Idosa; General Secretary Rev. Dr. Berhanu Ofgaa; and the Rev. Yonas Yigezu, director of Mission and Theology. For the LCMS, the discussions included the Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, director of Church Relations and Regional Operations; the Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast Jr., chairman of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) and president of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind.; CTCR Executive Director Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer; and the Rev. Dr. Tilahun Mendedo, president of Concordia College Alabama, Selma, Ala.
The discussion team reviewed the history of the EECMY, including the history of the EECMY’s mission partners, and the history of the LCMS. The review of this history helped the discussion team recognize how the EECMY and the LCMS could better relate to one another. The team reviewed the past work between the EECMY and the LCMS and discussed ways to enhance that working relationship. The team also examined the commitment each church holds to the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran confessional documents.
Article 2 of the EECMY constitution states the following: “The Holy Scriptures of the Old and the New Testaments are the Holy Word of God and the only source and infallible norm of all Church doctrine and practice; the Church adheres to the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed … ; the Church sees in the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, which was worded by the Church Reformers, as well as in Luther’s Catechisms, a pure exposition of the Word of God.”
Article 2 of the LCMS constitution states: “The Synod, and every member of Synod, accepts without reservation: the Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament as the written Word of God and the only rule and norm of faith and of practice; all the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as a true and unadulterated statement and exposition of the Word of God.”
The representatives agreed that their two churches will respect each other’s constitution, bylaws and policies, as doctrinal discussions and cooperative efforts continue. They also discussed areas where the two churches could work together, such as with theological education and various human-care projects.
After the discussions, the delegates of the EECMY and LCMS team signed a working-partnership agreement. The agreement emphasizes the ongoing need for the two churches to understand one another better and to identify the challenges that are common and unique to both churches. While formal pulpit and altar fellowship remains a goal, both churches are committed to continuing their current shared efforts, as well as regular and ongoing discussions of theology and practice.
This partner agreement is a revision of the 2010 agreement between the Department of Mission and Theology of the EECMY and the World Mission Department of the LCMS. The revised agreement signed in Addis Ababa was between the two church bodies, rather than between units within the church bodies. This demonstrates increased commitment between the EECMY and LCMS to become closer to one another.
EECMY and LCMS representatives, meeting on the campus of Mekane Yesus Seminary in Addis Ababa, also discussed how they might increase their work together in the area of theological education. EECMY participants included President Wakseyoum, General Secretary Berhanu, the Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS) President Rev. Dr. Belay Gula, along with many of the seminary’s faculty members. LCMS participants included Collver and Rast, along with the Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Kloha and the Rev. Dr. William Schumacher, respectively provost and chairman of the Historical Theology department for Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. The parties agreed to work closely together toward the accreditation of MYS, particularly in the areas of curriculum review and library enhancement.
About The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus
The EECMY was formed in 1959 as various synods started by several different mission societies merged into one church. In the 1970s, the EECMY developed the theme, “Serving the Whole Person,” now often quoted and referred to as wholistic ministry. This has been a guiding principle for all evangelistic, development, and social ministry of the church. Beginning with 20,000 members in 1959, the EECMY has grown to 6.7 million members. Learn more at http://www.eecmy.org.
About The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is a biblical, confessional, witness-oriented Christian denomination with 2.2 million members (600,000 households) in 6,136 congregations. Through acts of witness and mercy, the church carries out its mission worldwide to make known the love of Jesus Christ. Learn more at http://www.lcms.org.
Posted Nov. 17, 2014