Philip Knutson is the regional program assistant for southern Africa for the ELCA’s Global Mission unit. He works with companion churches, companion synods and mission personnel throughout southern Africa. To support Philip, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
As regional program assistant for ELCA Global Mission I have the privilege of regularly visiting and learning from many different people and contexts across southern Africa. In August I represented the ELCA at the annual council meeting of the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa (LUCSA), which is the sub-regional expression of the Lutheran World Federation comprising 16 Lutheran churches in 10 different countries across southern Africa.
The conference was held in the town of Livingstone, Zambia, just a few miles from the Mosi-oa-Tunya Falls (“the smoke that thunders”), also known as Victoria Falls. The conference received and discussed reports from the member churches and the various programs of LUCSA focusing on HIV and aids, malaria, diakonia, communications, gender justice and theological education. On the Sunday all the delegates worshiped with a local Lutheran congregation, which meets in a small classroom in a public school nearby.
Despite ongoing financial constraints and other challenges, the LUCSA programs are playing a positive facilitative role in the member churches and related communities in the region.
Most recently I spent some days in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, meeting with twelve young adults who have just arrived for orientation as participants in the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program. We had lively conversations sharing perspectives on church and society in the U.S. and South Africa. We talked about an understanding of mission as accompaniment, as “mutual conversion” and learning to walk together with others in God’s mission in a post-apartheid South Africa and a world where the gap between rich and poor is growing.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support for the ELCA missionary sponsorship program and for your participation in God’s mission locally and globally.