East AfricaEast Africa
ELCA Global Mission’s engagement throughout the East Africa region is diverse and includes relationships with two of the oldest, largest Lutheran churches in Africa. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania has over 5 million members and is celebrating itsr 50th Jubilee since the various Lutheran churches in Tanzania came together to form the Tanzania church. The Malagasy Lutheran Church is over 3 million members and was formed in 1950. Prior to the official formation of these churches, mission outreach from the U.S. and Europe had started in the 19th century. Both of these churches spread the gospel by holistic development of the people through evangelism, social ministries and leadership development.
The East Africa region also contains two relatively small and young churches, each started in very different ways. The Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church started as a synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania and in the early 1990s became independent. The Lutheran Church in Rwanda was started in 1995 by Rwandan refugees returning from Tanzania after the genocide. Each church has less than 20,000 members but strives to grow through evangelism.
ELCA Global Mission also supports the work of The Lutheran World Federation-World Service throughout the East Africa region, the ACT Alliance, The Lutheran World Federation's associate program and the Tanganyika Christian Refugee Service.
The ministries in the East Africa region are strengthened by the 26 ELCA synods relating to Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, the Malagasy Lutheran Church, the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in Rwanda. This is the highest number of companion synod relationships within one region; 20 of those relationships are with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, four are with the Malagasy Lutheran Church, one is with the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church and one is with the Rwanda church.
On July 9, 2011, South Sudan became an independent nation, bringing a lot of excitement to ELCA Global Mission, ELCA Sudanese congregations, communities in South Sudan and other ELCA congregations and synods as the ELCA considers new opportunities for witness and proclamation of the gospel in South Sudan. The ELCA is in consultation with the Episcopal Church of Sudan to help coordinate all Lutheran programs and activities. The vision is to establish “One South Sudan Lutheran Church” with many languages and tribes.
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