Global and Multicultural Mission
January 2017 to April 2018
United Nations: Peace through Religion
Responsibility of Religions and Governments for Peace.
On December 5th2017, the United Nations co-sponsored an ecumenical meeting on the ‘Responsibility of Religions and Governments for Peace.’ The meeting was held under the auspices of the German Federal Foreign Office at German House in New York. Our Synod was invited to participate and I attended on behalf of the Synod.
This meeting brought together religious leaders, civil society representatives, policymakers and representatives of multilateral organizations. Discussions tried to identify the main challenges to cooperation across different religious and the conditions for effective cooperation in the future.
All attendees agreed that religion is an important source of understanding, peace and stability for many people. National governments and the international community should therefore consider measures to strengthen the potential of religious actors to support peace and build bridges.
Peace through Religion.
There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that many conflicts and wars would have been far bloodier without the influence of religious peace actors. In addition to their commitment to peace and a thoroughly realized responsibility for peace, religious leaders stand out because in many cases they enjoy more trust from the conflict parties. This was done with success in Mozambique, Benin, and recently in Colombia where representative of the Catholic Church has played an important role behind the scenes of the Colombian peace process because they enjoyed the trust of all conflict parties.
The religious motivation for peacemaking makes sense because all religious traditions are known to promote peace and reject violence. In many places religious actors are regarded dependable and persistent; they resist major dangers and often they are capable of negotiating peace that last years.
Companionship with North Western Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Since 1963, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) has grown from 500,000 members to 6.1 million, approximately 13 percent of the population of Tanzania.
During a time when global Christianity was in decline in membership, ELCT and other Christian Churches in East Africa thrived. Now, the ELCT and the environment in East Africa offer a learning opportunity on effective evangelism for the global Lutheran Church.
Through a Global Ministry of Evangelism Project in Tanzania, twenty ELCA Synods have Companion relationship with twenty Dioceses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania. Because of the support from the twenty ELCA Synods, many Dioceses in Tanzania have been able to do many projects to enhance the life of their members in the fields of education, health and agriculture. This opportunity has helped dioceses to send more people to Seminaries or Evangelism school. Evangelism in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania is given a lot of weight. Their evangelists are sent out to open churches in places that need them. Because of this Evangelical Church in Tanzania is growing fast.
Accompanying the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania
The Companion Synod Program began in 1990 as a part of the Mission 90 initiatives of the newly formed ELCA. At that time there were 20 ELCT dioceses partnered with 20 ELCA synods. As of now there are 25 ELCT dioceses with probability of more in the not- too- distant future.
The purpose of the consultation is to bring all 20 companion synods and Dioceses together to meet face to face to envision new possibilities for the structure of our relationships with ELCT in the light of that church’s growth.
In May, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, Presiding Bishop Shoo extended the offer to host the international gathering of all diocesan and synodical bishops at the international summit to take place in August of 2018 in Moshi, Tanzania.
All perspectives and voices are needed as we re-envision what is feasible before joining our ELCT partners at the summit.
The Consultation put together a small group representing all regions, I was appointed to be one of the members of the group. This group will meet to put together forward- looking strategies for our future accompaniment with our brothers and sisters in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT). All 20 ELCA Synods with Companionship dioceses in Tanzania were represented.
2018 ELCA-ELCT Summit
The Global Mission of the ELCA together with the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania are organizing a Summit to be held in Moshi, Tanzania, from August 7-8, 2018.
All Synods of the ELCA with Companionship Dioceses in Tanzania have been invited to participate.
Rationale for the 2018 ELCA/ELCT Summit
The Companion Synod Program was developed in the 1990s as a part of the ELCA Churchwide initiative, Mission 90. Each ELCA synod was partnered with at least one international companion church in regions designated by Global Mission unit. At that time, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) was compromised of 20 dioceses and, therefore 20 ELCA synods were paired with each ELCT diocese for mutual accompaniment.
Over the 26 years, through the development of new dioceses from what were Mission areas, ELCT has grown from 20 dioceses to now 25, with the anticipation of even more in the coming years. While we celebrate this growth of Christ’s church, it also results in the reality that five ELCT dioceses have no companion synod.
As new ELCT dioceses are formed and have no ELCA companion synod, it has become important to discuss about new ways of engagement. It also necessary to strengthen the relationship between ELCT and ELCA envisioning the future together.
The gathering in Moshi, Tanzania will enable both sides to have in depth conversation guided by the principles of accompaniment. This will also be time to strengthen our relationships, set a new vision and direction for our future engagement and nurture and equip each other in the spirit of accompaniment.
“Re-Visioning Reformation in Asia.”
February 1-7th, 2017 Medan Indonesia.
The Asian Lutheran International Conference (ALIC) met in Medan, Indonesia. This was the 9th Biannual Asian Lutheran international conference (ALIC) which started 20 years ago. It took place in Medan, Indonesia February 1-7, 2017. It was attended by more than 150 delegates mainly from the ELCA Asian /Pacific Islander Association, including locals who represented 9 caucuses:
Chinese, Hmong, India, Indonesia, Laotian, Japanese, Korean, Filipino and Thai.
Theme: Re-visioning reformation in Asia. Most of these Asian churches have partnership with the ELCA through Global Mission companionship program.
The Rev. Dr. Pongsak Limthonhuiratn, Program Director for Asia and Pacific Islander Ministries was the coordinator of the conference. The keynoter Prof. Paul Rajashekar Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia spoke on “ Significance of the Reformation for the Church. “ Mrs Manhei Yip from Hong Kong spoke on the “ Impact of the Reformation on Asian Christianity” while Prof. Rospita Sihaan from Indonesia spoke on the “ Re-visioning the Reformation in Asian Cultural Context.”
The Rev. Andrew Yee led a panel of young adults for the whole afternoon under the theme
“Reformation and New generation.”
Protestant Christian Batak Church, Indonesia has 4.3 million membership and the largest Lutheran Church in Asia. It is the 7th largest in the Lutheran World Federation. At the same time Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world 204,847,000 which is almost 90% of the entire Indonesian population. As a result Christian witness and solidarity is very powerful.
The Asian Lutherans officially started Reformation Anniversary observance on February 1st, 2017.
I was invited by ELCA and was asked to participate in different workshops and speak at the Assembly.
The Asian Lutheran International Conference was a great experience of learning, working, worshipping, praying, playing and getting to know one another.
Tanzania Companionship Committee
Tanzania Companionship Committee is the bridge of support between this synod and the North- Western Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania. The Committee hosts visitors from Tanzania, raises funds, coordinates the endowment fund for educational ministries, and works to deepen and strengthen our relationship. Our primary focus is commitment to Christian education in the diocese, especially by supporting American teachers at Kibeta English Medium Primary School ( KEMPS)
Ms. Melanie Nelson, a retired teacher is our teacher at Kibeta English Medium Primary School.
She has been in Tanzania almost a year, her husband David joined her last year in November. She is there to represent Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and our Synod as well.
Melanie was born in Minnesota, but lived most of her life with her family in Texas. She has a BA in Elementary Education. We received very good references for her from many people who knew her.
She was received well in Bukoba by Bishop Keshomshahara and the General Secretary Pastor E. Kigembe. The students and KEMPS received her warmly, lining up along the driveway singing, throwing flowers and waving branches of leaves.
Ms. Nelson attended Arusha Kiswahili School for learning Kiswahili. She did Kiswahili for beginners Course that lasted three weeks.
Melanie Nelson’s Story:
Reaching out and finding an opportunity to become a part of a culture, and a community, other than my own has always been on my bucket list. Along with that comes one of my faults - a failure to reach out and act on my desires, wants, and wishes. So, without doing much of anything, I left that bucket list item for God, that God to whom “all desires are known and no secrets are hid”!
That wasn’t enough, because I am quite stubborn, so over the past years God has taught me to allow myself quiet moments for listening to those ‘still small voices’ sent my way, and also to be open to where they may lead, and that is definitely what happened!
I am here in Bukoba, Tanzania as a volunteer teaching at Kibeta English Medium Primary School, a.k.a. KEMPS. It’s a school filled with life, learning, happiness, and God’s love. I am here because I was open to the possibility and also because MNYS chose to send me. I am thankful for this school community who has embraced me, and also for the opportunity to continue to experience those crazy unforgettable teaching moments that give flavor to my days. And let me tell you that yesterday was full of flavor. It was no salt and pepper day.
One of my assignments is teaching Healthcare & Environment to Standard I, which in America is our First Grade. This particular class has 43 students. Yes, that’s right, 43. My husband David is here with me, and because he is available, I enlisted him as my teaching assistant. He knows not to plan anything on Tuesdays because he’s mine on that day, and this past Tuesday was no exception. The two morning periods went well. They most always do because the children are fresh and ready for the day and so are we. The end-of-the-day afternoon triple has been the challenge and this week I had a plan; divide the students into three groups for three different activities related to what we were studying. David would take one group outside while I worked with groups inside and then we would rotate. I was feelin’ good about this Tuesday’s afternoon triple!
If we were in America David would have received an exceptionally good rating for his teaching Tuesday afternoon, and this veteran teacher would have been placed on a growth plan. The kids were lost. The learning I had planned was so out-of-the-box for them that we barely got started before it was time to end. The room was noisy and chaotic and as the minutes ticked on what I first perceived of my thoughtful plan also became noisy and chaotic thoughts. Simply stated, I forgot to find a balance between what I know about good teaching practices in America and what KEMPS knows about good teaching practices in Tanzania. I ploughed ahead with what I thought was best. I forget about “Pole, pole” or “slowly, slowly”. My lesson didn’t work. Thank goodness for next week and a second chance. I am learning.
The Metro New York Synod has been “pole, pole” here, building a relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania and KEMPS over time. Your solid and constant steps in this community are visible: the building of a dining hall, water tanks, student scholarships, school supplies, the salary for an English teacher, library donations, pen pals, and much more. Through your support diligent learning takes place here. I am thankful. Thankful for your work, and now my work. We continue to learn together and are unified in this mission because we know that we are all God’s people. God is the glue that binds us together, and we all know that a school staple is glue. How fortunate we are here at KEMPS to have our glue supplied by God.
Rostered Ministers Gathering-On the Way–Together
August 7-10, 2017
This event was organized by Churchwide Office and this was the first Rostered Ministers Gathering.
We came together in Atlanta, as a church, together into asking where God is calling us. Together working toward a more just world, together in our ecumenical and inter-faith engagements and together serving the world in Jesus’ name.
There were many workshops that were educational and uplifting. To name a few, those that I attended; Advocacy as Public Witness, Leadership development, Cross+ Generational Faith Formation and Racism and the Church.
It was an opportunity for learning, fellowship, and spiritual uplifting.
ELCA African National Mission Developers
August 23-26, 2017
Denver, Colorado, ELCA Domestic Unit gathered Mission Developers from African Nationals , new start ,Asian, New Start, Churches starting churches, Multicultural Urban Starts, Postmodern New starts, Network for Homeless and Justice Ministries Leaders.
I participated in these trainings as a Facilitator for the African Nationals on Spiritual Grounding Journey for Congregations, Heart and Soul of the Mission Developer, and Boundaries.
Urban Leaders Institute
This is a ministry of the Metropolitan New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
It is organized through the Metropolitan New York Synod by the Black Pastors Group. Urban Leaders Institute is a three- day conference for ordained and lay leaders.
Every year there are workshops on different topics. This year among other topics, Internalized racism is one and main topic.
Urban Leaders Institute will meet from July 18 to 20th 2018, at the Synod Office building.
All are welcome.
Our Synod is committed to confronting the sin of racism and dismantling the personal and systemic walls that divide, hurt and oppress God’s children. We continue to implement the 2015 Synod Assembly adopted resolution committing to training as many people as possible in anti-racism. On 21st 2017ma training on Systematic racism was held at Redeemer St. John’s Lutheran Church in Brooklyn. Most Pastors and lay-leaders from Brooklyn Conference attended.
More trainings are planned for this year 2018. On March 24th, 2018 training will be held at St. Andrews Lutheran Church in Smithtown from 9:00 to 4:00, we start with a light breakfast. A bilingual training will be held in July, a date and venue will be confirmed soon. A training on Internalized Racism will be on July 19th and 20th. It will be part of Urban Leaders Institute workshops. This will be held at 475 Riverside Drive building. From 9:00Am to 4:00 pm
On September 16th 2017 Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America held their annual meeting at Wartburg. I represented our Synod.
This organization includes women who gather in more than 7,000 locations in the United States of America and the Caribbean, for service, study, advocacy, fellowship and more. WELCA embraces all kinds of ministries that support and mobilize women to act boldly on their faith in Jesus Christ.
The issue of Human Trafficking was discussed and a decision was made to continue doing all possible to condemn and help those who find themselves in this situation.
Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, commit themselves to grow in faith, affirm their gifts, support one another in their callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the Church, society, and the world.
This is a ministry of our Synod for the African Nationals from East Africa who speak Kiswahili. I am their pastor, I am there for them for prayers, sickness, funeral and any other issues that need pastoral attention. Recently, ‘ICE’ Police arrested a few of them reason being that they had no valid papers. I went to Court to appeal for their release because I know they had valid papers. In court the ‘ICE” Police said they were arrested because the authenticity of their papers was in question. Their Green Cards were then checked and they were found to be authentic and the individuals were released. Between the month of February and March this happened four times.
We meet and worship at United Lutheran Church in Mt. Vernon where Rev. Carol Fryer is the Pastor.
The Multicultural Committee of the Metropolitan New York Synod, hosted
“A celebration of diversity”. On April 14th,2018 at New Hope Lutheran Church in Jamaica, Queens. People from different ethnic groups gathered to share their personal journeys as immigrants. We learnt about our diversity and our diverse synod through gifts of dance, songs, musical performance, art, and food The theme was “ Building Bridges”. We finished with Worship.
Respectfully Submitted by:
Rev. Perucy Nyanjula Butiku
Assistant to the Bishop for Global and Multicultural Mission