ELCA NEWS SERVICE
March 16, 2009
ELCA Mission Personnel Evacuate Madagascar
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Mission personnel of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) serving in the Republic of Madagascar have evacuated the island due to recent civil unrest. Madagascar is located off the southeastern coast of Africa.
According to BBC News, Madagascar President Marc Ravalomanana and opposition leader Andry Rajoelina are locked in a fierce power struggle. The political unrest has erupted into violence.
The U.S. ambassador to Madagascar advised some Americans to leave Madagascar for their safety. An ELCA health care worker and regional representatives, working with the Malagasy Lutheran Church (Fiangonana Loterana Malagasy), evacuated the island.
The 3 million-member Malagasy Lutheran Church is one of the largest Lutheran churches in the world. It has nine hospitals and 13 dispensaries, schools and a seminary. The church focuses on evangelism, social ministry and leadership development.
The ELCA and Malagasy Lutheran Church are members of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), a global communion of churches representing 68.5 million Lutherans.
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop and LWF president, and the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director, ELCA Global Mission, wrote a letter to the Rev. Endor Modeste Rakoto, president of the Malagasy Lutheran Church, to express "the desire for peace."
"In this time of civil unrest that has shattered the peace of Madagascar, we want to assure you that your colleagues in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are holding you, your family, the Malagasy Lutheran Church, and all of the people of Madagascar in our thoughts and prayers," wrote Hanson and Malpica Padilla.
They told Rakoto, "We know that you have been active in seeking a peaceful solution to the present conflict, providing leadership in difficult and dangerous times. We also know that our missionaries serving in Madagascar have deeply appreciated both your leadership and your care for them in this quickly changing situation.
"Please know that we join you in praying that, in the coming days, the desire for peace that God wills for all people will eclipse human pride and plans, and that all involved in the conflict will discover the path to reconciliation for the sake of all those who live in Madagascar," wrote Hanson and Malpica Padilla.
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Information about the Malagasy Lutheran Church is available at http://tinyurl.com/cv8ouy on the ELCA Web site.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or email@example.com
ELCA News Blog: http://www.elca.org/news/blog