ELCT Press Release
Date: April 14, 2014
Press release No. 002/04/2014

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Marangu jubilee celebrations

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) welcomes the planned Marangu jubilee celebrations to take part in Tanzania to commemorate Reformation and the spirit of unity initiated at the Marangu Conference of 1955, when leaders of Africa Lutheran Churches met for the first time.

Opening a Committee meeting to plan the anniversary to be held next year, Bishop Dr Alex Malasusa the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Vice President (for Africa Region) and ELCT Presiding Bishop said: “Marangu Conference is historical and key to our unity, dignity, integrity, self-autonomous, self-governing and self-sustaining of the churches in Africa”.

ELCT Presiding Bishop Dr Alex Malasusa (center) opening the planning meeting for Marangu Conference Anniversary to be held next year. On his left is Retired Bishop Zephania Kameetta of Namibia who chaired the meeting. Left is Bishop-elect Rev. Ambele Mwaipopo of ELCT Lake Tanganyika Diocese.

The planning meeting was organized by the LWF Africa Desk in order for the team to propose the agenda, identify themes, presentations, participants, speakers and propose the draft budget for the 2015 anniversary for African churches to commemorate the 60th Marangu jubilee as part of processes towards the 500th anniversary of Reformation in 2017.

Bishop Malasusa said through the 2015 Marangu jubilee commemoration, the LWF as a Communion of Churches, “is giving Africa an opportunity to articulate its agenda to be put before the LWF Assembly to take place in Windhoek, Namibia in 2017.

Rev. Dr. Elieshi Mungure the LWF Africa Secretary said the committee has proposed to have 130 participants to Marangu jubilee commemoration in May 2015 in Moshi near Marangu and on the climax of the events a church service will be celebrated in Marangu.

Dr Mungure said what has been recommended by the Marangu jubilee planning committee in Moshi will be taken to the LWF Council meeting in May for final approval.

Bishop-emeritus Dr Zephania Kameeta who chaired the planning meeting held 25 – 27 in Moshi, Tanzania; explained: “In 1955 people traveled to Marangu when their hearts were heavily laden as the countries were still under colonial rule. There was the spirit of self determination and yearning for liberation of Africa as a whole.”

Therefore, he said, “Marangu is a place African leaders came together on the eve of independence when the struggle for independence had already started. But now churches in Africa are going to Wittenburg, Germany 2017 in their own right.”

He said the Marangu conference was of utmost importance to Africa as a whole. “In fact we are renewing the spirit of African leaders who met 60 years ago to rediscover our heritage. We cannot forget Marangu for the sake of the Church today and for the coming generation – for our children and for the whole of Africa.”

In November 1955, heads of Lutheran churches in Africa came together for the first time in Marangu, northern Tanzania (then Tanganyika), and envisioned to work for a "self-sustaining church." At the time, only two churches—the Lutheran Church in Madagascar and the then Lutheran Church in Northern Tanganyika—were LWF member churches.

Dr Kameeta said by celebrating the Marangu jubilee come 2015 we are not forgetting the global setting. We (Africa) will bring 142 churches together, he said, smiling.

Before going to the global celebrations, he said: “We are getting together to talk about the renewal of the Church in Africa including Reformation. Martin Luther in 1570 said the Reformation of the Church continues. Therefore our spirit goes on beyond 2017.

“We would be looking closely to relate Marangu to our own churches asking ourselves what we need to do to change and renew; We (churches in Africa) would be looking at social and economic situation in Africa because we are not only there to be concerned as Lutherans; but we are there to be concerned in ways to take other responsibilities.

“We cannot be celebrating without looking at the growing poverty; issues of corruption in our society and countries and climate change. All these issues need our attention and therefore this is why the celebrations is all encompassing as it involves everything.”

He said in 1955 he was ten years old and not aware of Marangu conference. It was only when he was 22 when he learnt about it as part of his theology training.

He said the issue of sustainability “is of utmost importance, even in the context of my church in Namibia, because without sustainability we cannot plan for the future. Plans include those of human resource as well as financial independence. There is always a notion that we need the north while they don’t need us. We should be in an equal footing assisting and helping each other especially for the African church.”

On behalf of the committee he thanked the Northern Diocese for making the meeting possible, ELCT for selecting members of the planning committee to strategize for 2015 – 2017 processes and in particular the Northern Diocese for the venue and hosting the team in a very tranquil and beautiful atmosphere.

In his welcoming word as host, Bishop Dr Martin Shao said “the spirit brought to us through the early missionaries still lives. Faith is planned by God and is growing”.

In a sermon during the opening of the meeting, Bishop-elect Ambele Mwaipopo of ELCT Lake Tanganyika Diocese, said plans made by human beings do not always give room for environmental impact assessment and as result the entire creation is subjected to futility and under bondage and condemned to decay. He mentioned that the beauty of Mount Kilimanjaro seen in 1955 was no longer there as the snow was melting very fast.

Dr. Colleen Cunningham a consultant with the LWF said the planning meeting went well and that as an
African, “Marangu conference epitomized the dream of a liberated, transforming, renewing Church in the on-going reformation processes towards and beyond Windhoek 2017.

Rev Dr Ebise Dibisa Ayana, Theology Lecturer at the Mekane Yesus Seminary, a school of theology belonging to the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) said the planning team was able to visit two places Tumaini University Makumira (TUMA) and Marangu. She explained that TUMA moved to its current site in 1954 and Marangu was held in 1955, therefore, the two places are closely linked to each other.

Rev Godluck Kitomari, Lecturer at TUMA said Reformation was a continuous process focusing on liberation of mankind. He said the Church in Africa was fostering a spirit of unity in Africa already before political leaders met in Addis Ababa for the Organization of African Unity in 1963.

Rev Dr Faith K. Lugazia, Lecturer in the University of Rwanda said Marangu conference was very important because it brought unity among Lutherans in the continent by being together and sharing their common heritage. Marangu introduced Tanganyika (then) to the African map, she said.

Rev Nehemia Moshi, lecturer at TUMA and a member of the LWF global Special Committee on Reformation said Marangu as an event provided for the ownership of Reformation by Lutheran Church in Africa.

Bishop Dr Musa Filibus said Marangu “is not only a place or a landmark on the journey towards Wittenburg; Marangu is where everything started the spirit was ignited and it went out to share the Good News. The anniversary will enable churches to articulate the harvest and map out the way forward. The gathering for the 60th anniversary should be a moment of coming together rather than a moment of departure,” he said

"From Marangu to Wittenberg: Theological Education and Leadership Formation and the Renewal of the Lutheran Church in Africa," will be the theme of the Marangu jubilee celebrations. Events leading up to the Reformation anniversary will have a major focus on strengthening Lutheran identity in the African region.

The Secretary General of ELCT Mr Brighton Killewa and the coordinator of Lutheran Communion in Central and East Africa (LUCCEA) attended the opening session of the planning meeting.

Elizabeth Lobulu
Communication Coordinator,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania
Box 3033, ARUSHA, Tanzania.
Phone: +255-27-250-8856/7
FAX: +255-27-254-8858
E-mail: Elizabeth Lobulu <ELobulu@elct.or.tz>

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For more information contact:

Elizabeth Lobulu
Communication Desk Officer, ELCT
E-mail: ELobulu@elct.or.tz