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LWF President Musa: The church needs 21st century "shepherds"

ARUSHA, Tanzania/GENEVA| 28/8/2019

Unity a key topic at Tanzanian church assembly, Presiding Bishop Fredrick Shoo re-elected

(LWI) - Churches rise and fall depending on the quality of leadership and therefore need “shepherds” who can provide clear theological direction, watch over God’s people and proclaim the good news of the gospel. This was the message of Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa, President of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) to the 20th General Assembly of theEvangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania(ELCT).

“We must invest in the training of elders of our time who are able to defend the ‘proper proclamation of the gospel’, which is the hallmark of the church,” Musa told the highest decision-making body of the ELCT, meeting near the northeastern city of Arusha.

His reflections were based on the assembly theme, “Feed the Flock (1 Peter 5: 2).” More than 240 delegates attended the 19-23 August meeting at the ELCT Tumaini University. The assembly convenes every four years, and brings together clergy and laity from the church’s 26 dioceses, staff from its health, educational and other institutions, and invited guests from partner churches and other organizations.

Musa, Archbishop of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, reminded the gathering that “pastor” means a “shepherd” who has been called to “servanthood.” Pastors, he emphasized, have the primary responsibility of ensuring “that God’s flocks under their care are fed, nourished and nurtured by the counsel of the true Word of God so that they become strong in their faith and fully equipped to do their ministry,” he said.

Church leaders, Musa noted, need to come to their ministry – lay or ordained – out of delight in response to God’s call. On the other hand, one should not serve as a leader too eagerly for the wrong reasons such as financial gain, self-interest or power. “It is regrettable that in many places today, ministry has become a quick way to wealth, as though the gospel message is up for sale,” he added.

The LWF president said he was concerned about increasing focus around the power of clerics, which leads to the so-called ‘clericalization of the church’. “While we speak of the ‘priesthood of all believers’, in practice, we seem to be drifting to a situation where everything regarding ministry revolves around the priests and bishops.” He noted the trend was particularly worrying in Africa, where the gap between the leader and other church members is “beyond imagination.”

“God is looking for leaders who are seeking to know God, leaders who know the truth and hunger and thirst for righteousness. Leaders must unify the church, while also addressing injustice in society,” Musa said.

The LWF president concluded: “The shepherd must also be a voice for the weak, the powerless, and those pushed to live on the margins of society due to cultural, religious or other beliefs. It is to take prophetic actions and speak truth to power and authority.”

Fostering a spirit of love and solidarity

Key topics at the assembly included unity in the church, participatory leadership of both women and men, the church economy, building strong and healthy families and the election of church officials. Delegates re-elected Presiding Bishop Dr Fredrick Onael Shoo to lead the ELCT for a second four-year term. He has been head of the church since 2015.

In his address to the assembly, Shoo focused on unity, reminding other ELCT leaders of the need to keep the church together in spite of the different contexts and perspectives that its members represent. “If we build a strong union, we will respect one another, we will support each other and cherish each other, and have the best opportunity to shepherd the Lord's flock,” he urged the assembly.

The presiding bishop described the assembly as “an opportunity to foster a spirit of love and solidarity among us so that our work as a church will continue to offer a unique and enlightening witness to the community.”

At the assembly, Shoo and Musa introduced the publicationNafasi ya Kanisa kwa Umma, the recently published Swahili version of the LWF document,The Church in the Public Space.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania has more than 7.5 million members in its 26 dioceses in all regions of the country. It joined the LWF in 1964.
source: LWF

Submitted by:資訊中心
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