The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


ELCA sabbaticals go global

How theologians are serving, learning abroad

Demon possession. Discerning real prophets from false. Dancing in church: yes or no?

Tough questions abound in Kathryn Schifferdecker’s classes at the Mekane Yesus Seminary in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Through the ELCA Global Sabbatical Awards program, the professor from Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., has spent a semester teaching in the master’s program in practical theology, while husband Doug Steinke serves at the nearby International Lutheran Church.

Schifferdecker’s students have bachelor’s degrees in theology and years of experience as pastors and evangelists in the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus. The fastest-growing Lutheran church body in the world, the EECMY recently broke off relations with the ELCA and the Church of Sweden over questions of sexuality.

In Ethiopia, awareness of the reality of Satan and evil is acute, and all of Schifferdecker’s students have done exorcisms. “I’ve been challenged to address questions that would never come up in an American classroom, like how to preach the gospel of reconciliation in traditional cultures,” she said.

Everything she encounters, from exorcisms and healings to development projects aimed at poverty, is evidence of the Spirit moving in the EECMY, she said.

“I see it as ministry to the whole person — about helping people live an abundant life now,” Schifferdecker added. “Classroom discussions have enlarged my vision of ministry and taught me again how broad and deep is the body of Christ around the world.

The rest of this article is only available to subscribers.

text size:

this page: email | print

March issue

MARCH issue:

All are welcome