First African Regional CELC Meeting
During the week of April 16, representatives of five Lutheran synods in Africa gathered at the Lutheran Seminary in Lusaka, Zambia, for a regional meeting of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference. The five Lutheran church bodies in Africa, all in fellowship with WELS, are the Lutheran Church of Central Africa (Zambia Synod), the Lutheran Church of Central Africa (Malawi Synod), All Saints Lutheran Church and Christ the King Lutheran Synod in Nigeria, and the Lutheran Church of Cameroon.
The meeting was an historic event, marking the first time representatives from the five African sister synods have met together in person, and the first Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference on the African continent. While representatives from Zambia and Malawi have previously attended the triennial meetings of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference, delegates from Nigeria and Cameroon have rarely been granted visas to join those meetings. An all-Africa regional meeting of the synods provided a vital opportunity for the leaders of these church bodies to get to know each other and to discuss the blessings and challenges confronting the Lutheran churches in Africa.
WELS was represented at the conference by President Mark Schroeder, Rev. Dan Koelpin (President of the CELC and administrator of WELS World Missions), Rev. Robert Hein (chairman of WELS Christian Aid and Relief), Rev. James Werner (a member of the Administrative Committee for Africa), Rev. Ken Cherney (professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary), and Rev. Doug Weiser (WELS liaison to Nigeria).
The keynote address defining “What is a Confessional Lutheran Church?” was delivered by WELS President Rev. Mark Schroeder. The keynote essay set the backdrop for other presentations outlining the struggles for Confessional Lutheranism in the various countries represented at the conference. The churches reported to each other on their respective ministry activities and made arrangements for the next CELC African Regional Conference in neighboring Malawi in the year 2015. Those elected to office were: Rev. Davison Mutentami (Zambia), African Regional CELC Chairman; Rev. Mathias Abumbi (Cameroon), African Regional CELC Vice Chairman; Rev. Eme G. Umoessien (Nigeria), African Regional CELC Secretary; Rev. Daniel Sargent (Zambia), CELC advisor; Rev. Kesten Chinyanga, planning and contact person for the next African CELC gathering in Malawi in 2015.