Aug 1, 2023
LPGM Celebrates the Churches in Cameroon and Central Africa
On July 8 & 9, 2023, Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry was part of a two-day celebration to remember the individuals who were eager to share the gospel 100 years ago in what was then known as the Sudan Region (modern day Cameroon and Central African Republic, not the countries now known as Sudan and South Sudan).
One hundred years ago, in March of 1923, after an 18-day boat trip from France to Douala, the first missionaries walked another 26 days on foot paths to get to their destination, the Mboula Station where they received a very warm welcome. Eventually the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Central African Republic and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon emerged. Both church bodies are members of the Lutheran World Federation and companion synods to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Over the years dozens of missionaries from the United States and other countries continued the work in the Central African Republic and Cameroon. More importantly, thousands of Africans have become Christians and are missionaries in their own right.
Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minn., was the venue for a day-long conference on July 8th that marked the centennial. LPGM hosted an informational mission table during the conference that provided materials about our ongoing partnership in the Central African Republic, specifically an initiative to improve the literacy of girls and women. A commemorative worship service was held at Central Lutheran Church (Minneapolis, Minn.) on July 9th.
With financial support from LPGM, the Lutheran church in C.A.R. distributed food kits containing rice, beans and oil, as well as mats, blankets and soap to internally displaced families in Central Africa in August 2021.
After the event, organizer Mark Nygard shared, "Many elements worked together well - the initial presentation of the early history, the recorded witness of a recently departed beloved missionary colleague, the breakout sessions in diverse fields, the panel discussion with African young people, the upbeat music provided by the Glocal and Cameroon musicians... the full church at Central Lutheran in Minneapolis hearing an amazing sermon by ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton." He added, "… invest[ed] in a mission event that reverberates 6,000 miles away in the heart of Africa, where our brothers and sisters in Christ sense they are united with folks of common mind back here in the United States."
Unfortunately The Rev. Joseph Ngoe, President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Central African Republic, and The Rev. Dr. Ruben Ngozo, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon, were not able to be with us in person due to travel and visa complexities. Technology, however, permitted for streaming and recordings that allowed those in Africa to participate from afar.
The Emmanuel Health Center in Gallo, C.A.R., was dedicated in 2010 and serves as an important medical facility in this rural area.
Through the volunteer work of Timothy G. Olson supervising the construction of a church building in the capital city of Bangui in 1991, LPGM became an official partner of the church in 1995 (the year of LPGM's inception). Today, despite many political and security challenges in the area, LPGM continues to partner with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Central African Republic in an effort to follow where God is leading.