August 27, 2018
The First International African Lutheran Conference has been launched
It is important for Lutherans of African descent in America to re-connect with Churches in Africa to work together in order to help each other in fulfilling Gods mission, Rev. Dr Wyvetta Bullock, the Assistant to the Presiding Bishop and Executive for Administration in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), said this at the first International African Lutheran Conference (IALC) held recently in Moshi, Tanzania.
The majority of about 100-plus participants of the conference came from the ELCA. The composition included African-Americans, Africans in diaspora, people from the Caribbean islands, Asians and Africans from the continent. The multi-cultural conference held in Moshi, Kilimanjaro Region August 8-13, 2018, was organized by the ELCA under the theme: UBUNTU - I am because we are.
Dr Bullock whose presentation was entitled: Re-connecting, Re-rooting and Growing; urged participants not to dwell too much on the past and use the opportunity at the conference to know the truth by sharing and learning from one another in order to grow.
She told them to let go of the pain of enslavement for African-Americans, and the painful colonial past for Africans, reminding them of how God turned the situation of Josephs enslavement that was intended for evil and used it for good.
As we find ourselves in a similar situation, God can use us and our ministries for the sake of the world. God can turn it for good and use us in the process. Let us tell each other the truth that can lead to reconciliation so that God can cure our brokenness and heal us together.
We are here today to listen, learn, imagine and plan the future together. To do no harm but to do each other good. We are called by the Spirit. Jesus said: I am the vine and you are the branches; go to increase and multiply. So, my question to you is: How are we going to use our time in Moshi, at the foot of Kibo to bear fruit? What will be our story at the end of the conference?" (Kibo is the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro).
Will we be re-connected and re-rooted? Will there be plans for growth? And what are we willing to commit? God is calling us today to be those people who recognise I am because you are; and we are because God is. God is faithful for it does not depend upon our power or ability. God is faithful and he will do above and beyond what we are going to think, ask and do. Does ELCA and ELCT (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania) know that we are here? Dr. Bullock inquired.
She thanked ELCT for hosting the conference. The plenary session of the conference was moderated by Rev. Dr Andrea Ngweshemi, Professor at Carthage College, in America.
On behalf of ELCT and the Presiding Bishop Dr. Fredrick Onael Shoo, the ELCT Secretary General, Mr. Brighton Killewa, welcomed the participants to Tanzania and commended the organisers for taking the initiative to convene the conference, the first of its kind. Some of the participants had attended the ELCA-ELCA Bishops Summit held at the same venue - the Lutheran Uhuru Hotel and Conference Centre.
Rev. Dr Emmanuel Grantson, the Chairperson of IALC said the purpose was to try to reconnect with our root as Africans. For a long time we have been separate groups doing mission. For example, within the ELCA there is Global Mission which is in contact with African Churches, Domestic Mission dealing with Africa national groups, and an African Descendant group, among others.
Rev. Grantson who originally is from Ghana, said: By being in Africa, we remind ourselves old and new things that can help the ELCA to grow." He said that in America religion is private, hence the need to re-connect and re-root so as to grow the way African national churches are growing so fast.
Rev. Dr. Bocko, the ELCA Director for Africa National Desk and Coordinator of the conference, said IALC was a historic meeting of its kind. The inspiration came from the Asian Association in America who had been holding Asian Lutheran International Conference (ALIC) for over 20 years.
Dr Bocko, who originally is from Tanzania, is a members of planning committee of ALIC. He told the participants that, two years ago we asked ourselves why not organize a similar meeting for Africans in diaspora. But it wasnt easy because it is our first time doing it.
Prof. Rev. Dr. Moses Penumaka from ELCA said it was important for people of African descent to re-connect and re-root with the Churches in Africa because Africa is sacred land. Africa is not only the cradle of mankind but also the cradle and the center of gravity of Christianity globally and the church in Africa was still growing
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