The Lutheran Church of Senegal
Who is the Lutheran Church of Senegal and what are its ministries?
Following a weekend workshop, Linguère-based Fulani Christians gather with ELS pastors for communion worship led by ELCA missionary Pastor Dirk Stadtlander
The Lutheran Church of Senegal (Eglise luthérienne du Sénégal), a member of the Lutheran World Federation
, became an independently-governed church body in 1987, has nearly 5,000 baptized members worshipping in 12 parishes and 2 active evangelism zones.
The Lutheran Church of Senegal, which was founded as a result of missionary activity by the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM), is now also supported by several companions, including the FELM, the ELCA, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of France. Although its original focus was ministry among the Serer people, the ELS is beginning to reach out beyond its cultural comfort zone to other ethnic groups, particularly the Fulani and the Diola. As a relatively young church in a context where Christians are a minority, the task of educating new church members, reaching out to other ethnic groups, and training pastors, evangelists and lay leaders is a high priority.
In addition to the work of the ELS, the ELCA is involved in Senegal through its accompaniment of the EELS, a community-based development organization that has its roots in the original mission of the ELCA in Senegal to reach out to Fulani or Pulaar-speaking people. EELS is beginning the process of localization, after which it will known as the Senegal Lutheran Development Service (SLDS). Today the EELS/SLDS supports ministry in both the capital city of Dakar and Linguère, a smaller community located several hours' travel inland. One ministry, the Community Center Galle Nanordiral (the House of Mutual Understanding), provides dynamic education, vocational training, and recreation programs to women and youth in the outlying districts of Dakar. In Linguère, the EELS offers community health care and dairy production programs that serve as a holistic outreach to the Fulani people of the region, who are largely animal herders. This work has resulted in small community of Fulani Christians who gather in Linguère for worship, fellowship and Christian education.How do the Lutheran Church of Senegal and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America accompany one another in ministry?
Baptisms are an occasion for great celebration in the relatively young Lutheran Church in Senegal
Through the churchwide ELCA Global Mission unit, the ELCA relates to and is in bilateral relationship with over 80 companion churches and institutions. The ELCA Global Mission unit stewards a church-to-church relationship with the Lutheran Church of Senegal. This relationship is deepened and extended through the ELCA Companion Synods program, which links the ELCA Grand Canyon Synod and the EELS. Informally, the synod relates to the LCS as well.Churchwide funding
through the ELCA Global Mission unit supports key priorities identified by both the ELS and the EELS/SLDS. Currently, ELCA personnel serve with the ELS in evangelism and leadership training. Support is also provided to the EELS/SLDS dairy production and primary health care programs in Linguère as well as to the Community Center Galle Nanondiral in Dakar. ELCA Global Mission also provides support for a the development of Christian resources in national languages, including the translation of the Old Testament into the Fulani language “Pulaar,” as well as for an ecumenical network engaged with ministry among the nomadic Fulani people throughout West Africa. Eight ELCA mission personnel serve in Senegal.
ELCA funds also support Church World Service (CWS), which works in Senegal. Supported by 36 denominations, including the ELCA, CWS is a U.S.-based ecumenical organization that works with partners to eradicate hunger and poverty and to promote peace and justice around the world. Senegal: The context in which the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Senegal serves
Women join in song at a Christmas Eve celebration at the increasingly diverse Dakar Parish of the Lutheran Church of Senegal
The Republic of Senegal gained independence from France on April 4, 1960. Over 12.5 million people live in Senegal. French is its official language, while inhabitants also speak Wolof, Pulaar, Diola and Mandinka. Slightly less than half (43%) of the population Wolof, almost one quarter Pulaar, and 15% Serer. The vast majority of Senegal is Muslim (94%). One percent practice indigenous beliefs, and 5% are Christians, mostly Roman Catholics. One of Africa's model democracies, it has an established multi-party system and a tradition of civilian rule. Senegal has also sent peacekeeping troops to DR Congo, Liberia and Kosovo.
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