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'It is good!'

Craig Johnson (left), bishop of the
Craig Johnson (left), bishop of the Minneapolis Area Synod, and Cherian Puthiyottil, Agora Ministries, address Mawien Ariik.
When Mawien Ariik was ordained Aug. 27 at Zion Lutheran Church in Anoka, Minn., he was believed to be the first Sudanese refugee to become a pastor in this country.

Ariik was called by the Sudanese Lutheran Church in Minnesota and the Minneapolis Area Synod to be a pastor developer with Sudanese at Zion and in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota.

The congregation is comprised of refugees like Ariik from southern Sudan—an area that has known nearly a quarter century of civil war. The refugees have worshiped in Zion’s chapel since 2002. In its application for ELCA membership, the congregation wrote: “In forming the Sudanese Lutheran Church in Minnesota, it is our wish to have an identity with the Lutheran Christian denomination so we can learn from our brothers and sisters how to practice our Christian faith in America.”

Ariik, born in 1963, was raised by parents with traditional African beliefs. He was baptized in 1972, and after receiving a bachelor of divinity degree in Cairo, Egypt, he emigrated and settled in Milwaukee before moving to the Twin Cities. When Nicholas Vuni, the pastor who led the Sudanese Community Church in Minnesota, returned to Sudan, Ariik was asked to provide them with spiritual leadership. He was a licensed lay minister while attending Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.

Of reaching his goal, he says simply, “It is good.” Then because he cannot contain his joy, he throws his head back, lifts his hands in the air and repeats, “It is good!”


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