Leaders of the 4.2-million member ELCA and more than 3-million member Malagasy Lutheran Church signed a March 13 partnership agreement in Antananarivo, Madagascar, to strengthen their relationship “in a new time.”
ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson said the agreement reflects the churches’ “partnership within the Lutheran World Federation” as well as “our deep commitment to growing together in Christ and our witness to God’s mission for the life of the world.”
Rakoto Endor Modeste, president of the Malagasy church, said, “We are very glad to sign [the agreement] together.”
The agreement came a month after the Ethiopian Evangelical [Lutheran] Church Mekane Yesus announced it would sever its relationship with the ELCA, the Church of Sweden and “those churches who have openly accepted same-sex marriage.”
Modeste said the Malagasy church spent one and a half years considering the agreement and had decided that differences between the churches were “not enough to cut relationship. We can go together on evangelism, development [and other ministries]. We are working together.”
Six young adults serve in Madagascar through the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program.
The Malagasy Lutheran Church is “sending missionaries, mostly physicians, to Southern Hemisphere churches in Cameroon, Bangladesh and Liberia in partnership with the ELCA,” Hanson said, adding that the ELCA can also learn from the denomination’s revival movement and its training and consecration of lay “shepherds, whose ministry is one of prayer for those who are sick.”
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