God’s work never stops. Churchwide office staff are still hard at work – from our homes. Hours and lines of communication remain the same.

Lutheran church in Ethiopia severs relationship with ELCA

2/7/2013 12:00:00 AM

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus is
severing its relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
(ELCA), the Church of Sweden and “those churches who have openly accepted
same-sex marriage.”
     The action for “all Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus
departments and institutions (at every level) to implement this decision”
was ratified at the denomination’s general assembly, which met Jan. 27-
Feb. 2 in Addis Ababa. The denomination’s church council took action at
its July 2012 meeting to initially sever these relationships.
     “The ELCA is very saddened by this decision,” said the Rev. Rafael
Malpica Padilla, executive director for ELCA Global Mission. “The ELCA
and its predecessor church bodies have been walking with the people of
Ethiopia for more than 50 years, and our sister church, the Church of
Sweden, for more than 150 years. In this journey, we have learned from
one another, we have deepened and extended the bonds of fellowship and
partnership in the gospel.” Malpica Padilla was in Addis Ababa for
meetings with program and ministry partners of the Ethiopian Evangelical
Church Mekane Yesus.
     To ensure that the decisions by the Ethiopian Evangelical Church
Mekane Yesus are implemented, members of the denomination “will not
receive Holy Communion from the leadership and pastors of the (ELCA and
the Church of Sweden). The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus will
not distribute communion to these churches,” as stated in the minutes of
the denomination’s July 2012 council meeting.
     “Representatives of these churches at national level or leaders at
every level would not be invited to preach or speak at the Ethiopian
Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus congregations or other gatherings. They
should not be invited for any spiritual ministries of this church,”
stated the minutes, which also reflects that leaders and pastors of the
Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus “at every level will not visit
the synods, dioceses, congregations and national offices of churches that
have accepted this practice without proper permission from the head
office of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus.”
     While the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus is “closing the
door to this partnership,” Malpica Padilla said that the ELCA and the
Church of Sweden “are not locking the doors from our side. It is open for
when you decide it is time to resume this journey together. It is my hope
that in the near future, we will again walk together in Christian love.
We will do this not because of doctrinal agreements or consensus, but
because the gospel compels us to do so.”
      The ELCA has consistently kept its Lutheran companion churches
informed about the ELCA’s process that led to the 2009 ELCA Churchwide
Assembly decisions, which included the adoption of a social statement on
human sexuality, said Malpica Padilla.
      “We shared the study documents and invited their input,” he
said. “When decisions were made, we wrote to (leaders of the Ethiopian
Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus) expressing our commitment to not impose
our actions and to respect the policy and practice of the Ethiopian
Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus in the assignment of mission personnel,”
he said.
     The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, said the actions of
the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus are “deeply troubling.”
      “Our own statement on human sexuality acknowledges that the
position held by the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus is also
held by members of the ELCA. We are not of one mind, but we are one in
Christ, in faith and in baptism,” said Hanson, adding that the
relationships between Lutherans in North America and in Ethiopia “has
been sustained through periods of oppression, divisions within the
Ethiopian church and in times of turmoil among Lutherans in North
America. The action of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus
church diminishes our capacity together to proclaim the good news of
Jesus Christ, to serve our neighbors and to care for the creation.
      “As the ELCA, we are always standing ready to open the door of
conversation for the sake of reconciliation and our shared commitment to
proclamation and service,” Hanson said. “Reconciliation is not an option.
It is given in Christ, and we stand ready to engage with the Ethiopian
Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus on what this gift of reconciliation might
mean for us now.”
---
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United
States, with more than 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations
across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church
of “God's work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God
through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the
world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church
reformer, Martin Luther.

For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org
http://www.ELCA.org/news
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Lutherans
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com

ELCA News


You can receive up-to-date
ELCA news releases by email.