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May 5, 2010

ELCA, Tanzanian, Ethiopian church heads to meet privately on sexuality

ELCA presiding bishop Mark S. Hanson said he will have a private meeting in Chicago May 10 with Wakseyoum Idosa, president of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus to discuss concerns about 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly actions related to human sexuality.

Hanson also said he will meet May 18 with Alex Malasusa, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) May 18. Malasusa will be in Chicago for a companion synod consultation with ELCA Global Mission staff.

In April, leaders of the two African churches expressed deep concern over decisions of the 2009 assembly and, separately, concern over decisions of the Church of Sweden, on sexuality matters. The two African churches focused their public comments on opposition to same-gender marriages.

The Church of Sweden, the ELCT, the EECMY and the ELCA are the four largest churches in the Lutheran World Federation, (LWF), a global communion of churches.

Hanson said he expects to have “honest and open conversations” with both leaders, and added that it is his practice to communicate directly with leaders in companion churches. Hanson said he will share with both leaders “the ELCA’s shared commitment with partner churches to be engaged in God’s mission for the sake of the world.”

Since the churchwide assembly, ELCA Global Mission staff has communicated with companion churches “our intent to continue to be respectful of local policies and practices in the assignment of mission personnel and the development of shared ministries,” said Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director, ELCA Global Mission.
Speaking at the Africa LWF Pre-assembly and Church Leadership Consultation in March in Nigeria, Malpica Padilla said the ELCA is “deeply grateful” for the companionship of the African churches.

“For many decades our churches have walked together, sharing their gifts and talents for the proclamation of the gospel of salvation and hope in Jesus Christ. This companionship in the gospel has strengthened the bonds of sisterhood and brotherhood between our peoples,” Malpica Padilla said, adding that the relationships are “historical and deeply rooted.”

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