Archive for June 2013

June Newsletter Available

You are invited to directly download the June issue of Rockrohr News and Notes clicking here. Or go to the Newsletter page clicking hereCarl

2nd Largest Lutheran Church In World Asks LCMS for Pastoral Training Assistance to Help Reach 30 Million People (updated with video)

In our last newsletter (May 2013) I mentioned that our work was changing from work at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Pretoria, South Africa to work in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Many details are becoming more clear and I would like to share some.

The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY – “Mekane Yesus” means “Place of Jesus”) is a church with an estimated 6 million members. It is the 2nd largest Lutheran church in the world, after the Church of Sweden, and growing by leaps and bounds – several 100,000 new members for a number of years in a row.

Historically the church was not planted by LCMS missionaries, but by missionaries from various European Lutheran churches as well as from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. However, the theological position of sanctioning and promoting same-sex marriage of some of its historic partners have caused EECMY to break fellowship, specifically with the Church of Sweden and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. EECMY contacted the LCMS to invite us to assist them in reaching the goal of training 12,000 more pastors in the next five years, 2013-2018.

Why are 12,000 additional pastors needed in 5 years? Presently the EECMY has about 8,000 congregations throughout Ethiopia, but only about 3,000 have pastors. They want 5,000 trained pastors for those congregations without pastors. In addition, the EECMY wants to witness to 30 million Ethiopians in the next five years and they pray that perhaps their church membership will grow by another 6 million members – and thus they need many thousands of pastors trained.

The EECMY trains pastors at a number of levels at a number of institutions. There is one central seminary in the capital, Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS). It has about 600 residential students and many more non-resident students. Some are in pastoral training in the School of Theology, some in musical training in the School of Jazz, and some in leadership training in the College of Leadership and Management. MYS is accredited at the bachelor’s level for theology and for its leadership and management programs. In addition, it has a bachelor’s degree program in Christian-Muslim relations. MYS also has about 1500 students in its TEE pastoral training program in many groups around the country. There is also a newly started distance education program with about 1000 students throughout the country.

Besides the MYS as the central seminary, EECMY has five regional seminaries and 40 Bible schools located throughout Ethiopia. All these institutions are training pastors at the bachelor’s degree, diploma or certificate level. One of the main goals of EECMY in the next five years is to upgrade all its training institutions: MYS central seminary to become a graduate school, the regional seminaries to be accredited at the bachelor level and the Bible Schools to all move their training to the diploma level. This upgrade of training needs upgrade of the faculties. Thus, the plan is that faculty of central and regional seminaries, as well as the Bible schools, will earn master and doctor of theology degrees at the central seminary. The five regional seminaries will also train faculty for the 40 Bible schools.

LCMS Asked to Assist EECMY in Its Outreach Ministry

[stream provider=video flv=x:/ mp4=x:/ embed=false share=false width=640 height=360 dock=true controlbar=over bandwidth=high autostart=false /]EECMY is asking LCMS to help guide its central seminary to upgrade to a graduate school. The five regional seminaries and 40 Bible schools may also need assistance in various ways. To investigate this request, Carl was asked to visit the central seminary in April, and now again from June 10-20 Carl and Deborah visited Ethiopia. Other LCMS persons visited EECMY as a team with Carl and Deborah in June including Dr. Al Collver of the LCMS President’s Office; Dr. Tim Quill, Director of LCMS International Theological Education; and Rev. Robert Roethmeyer, head librarian of Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne.

Some pundits have suggested that mission work is no longer happening in the LCMS or in other Biblical churches, but this is certainly not the case in Africa. Mission work may be changing from how some Americans sometimes think of mission work, but mission is certainly happening now in the LCMS. Fellow Lutherans around the world who have a high view of Scripture desire mutual encouragement and ministry. Graduate and post-graduate levels of training for pastors and other church workers is highly valued. Some can be trained in our LCMS seminaries in the US, but not all. And why should all be trained in the US? With Africa now having over 20 million Lutheran church members, African Lutherans are saying they need training in their own countries so that they can be leaders in their own churches and around the world. We thank the Lord!

Not all details of our work are clearly known at this point. Visas and work permits must be obtained. Learning about a Lutheran church we have previously had little contact with is very interesting, but also complex. (For example, the LCMS has 2.4 million members, the EECMY has 6 million members. The LCMS has 2 seminaries, the EECMY has six seminaries!) The EECMY does have some doctrinal differences with the LCMS – we are not in pulpit and altar fellowship at this time – but these brothers and sisters in Christ have asked our assistance in training their pastors and church workers, and the Lord Jesus is opening doors.

Please pray for continued resources for LCMS missionaries and professors from both LCMS seminaries (St. Louis and Ft. Wayne) to assist the EECMY. Please pray that the openness, wisdom and foresight of leaders in the synod including President Harrison, other synodical officials, district presidents and LCMS Office of International Missions continue as they have with the power of the Holy Spirit.

In future posts and newsletters, I will give more details as I learn them and understand them better. Keep us in your prayers, that the Lord give us His wisdom, patience and strength. His is a mighty salvation in Christ Jesus, we all are His servants.

In Christ,

Carl Rockrohr

Photos from April 2013 Visit to Mekane Yesus Seminary