This introduction to the ELCA Global Mission Africa Leadership Team is drawn from the Rev. Viking Dietrich’s blog, “Viking in West Africa.” –Sue
The leadership team of the ELCA Global Mission Africa Desk, including Program Directors, Regional Representatives and Chicago-based staff, met in July to consult and strategize for more effective regional work.
The Rev. James Gonia is Desk Director for Western and Central Africa, Tanzania and Madagascar. The Rev. Benyam Kassahun is Desk Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. As Desk Directors, Jim and Benyam are responsible for Global Mission’s engagement with companion churches and institutions in 20 countries in Africa.
The Rev. Barbara Berry-Bailey is Desk Director for Companion Synods. There are 52 companion synod relationships between African companion churches and dioceses and ELCA synods.
Amy Honore and Sharon Robinson are Chicago based Administrative Assistants. They are key to the teams efficiency, assuring logistical support and communications for the team.
Regional Representatives nurture relationships between the ELCA and its companion churches and partners in mission by being an extension of the leadership team present in the region. They assist the Desk Directors by providing support to ELCA missionaries, offering interpretations of context, monitoring grants, and acting as a liaison between multiple partners.
- The Rev.Viking Dietrich, Anne Langdji and Willie Langdji are regional representatives to Western and Central Africa. Viking works primarily in Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ghana. Anne and Willie work primarily in Senegal, Cameroon and the Central African Republic. To learn more about their regional work, visit “Global Mission in West Africa.”
- Regional Representatives for Eastern Africa are the Rev. Andy and Barbara Hinderlie and the Revs. Janice (JMe) and Bob Lowden. In September, JMe and Bob returned from service in Tanzania; their work that will be continued by Tom and Sally Roach, the Hinderlies and the Rev. Phil Knutson. The Hinderlies work in Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda, with Barbara having primary responsibilities in Madagascar. There are over 13 million Lutherans in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Madagascar, representing three-fourths of Lutherans in Africa. For more information, visit the Hinderlie’s regional site.
- The Rev. Phil Knutson is the ELCA Regional Representative in Southern Africa, as such he is responsible for work in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. For more information about the ELCA engagement in Southern Africa go to the site: Southern Africa Connections.
As a team, the Global Mission Africa leadership group is completed by more than 30 missionaries and dozens of volunteers and Young Adults in Global Mission who live and work in over 15 countries in Africa.