LCMS In “Place of Jesus”

A field cut video about the request from the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) to the Missouri Synod for assistance with theological education. Mekane Yesus means “Place of Jesus.” The EECMY is a 6.1 million member Lutheran church in Ethiopia.

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at


LCMS In “Place of Jesus” — 29 Comments

  1. @1:58 Not in altar and pulpit fellowship. What’s in the way? That seems somewhat important.

  2. If i understand you correctly that seems to be in flagrant disregard for Confessional Lutheranism.

  3. Dr. Collver: “…the Mekane Yesus church and the Missouri Synod are not in altar and pulpit fellowship”

    What kind of low-information pewsitters do they take us for?!?

    The EECMY has some 20 women pastrixes through its 21 synods. In 2010, the EECMY Women’s Ministry Forum held a tenth anniversary celebration at Mekane Yesus Seminary in Addis Ababa for the first EECMY pastrix. And in 2011 an EECMY pastrix was elected as Vice-President of the Birbir Dilla Synod (BDS).

    According to its Ecumenical Relationships, the EECMY has been a member of the Lutheran World Federation since 1963, a member of the All Africa Conference of Churches since 1974, a member the World Council of Churches since 1979, and a member of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, now the World Communion of Reformed Churches, since 2000. The EECMY also claims good working relationships with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Catholic Church and other Evangelical Churches in Ethiopia.

    Furthermore, the EECMY states:

    “[The EECMY] is also making contract with the leadership of the Islamic Supreme Council of Ethiopia to create a healthy relationship.”

    The EECMY is a African pigsty of unionistic and syncretic practices worse than NALC.

    Before playing footsy with the EECMY, the LCMS will need a ton of theological-strength laxatives and enemas to clean out the mess. But the Missouri Synod is not even willing to force-feed a tablespoon of theological emetic to a few of its DPs.

  4. OKay, let’s calm down here… Many Lutheran churches around the world belong to LWF. It is older and bigger. Our ILC group only started in 1993. LWF also sends a ton of money. But of late, e_ca and other liberal Europeans started attaching strings, like ordaining women, and now homosexuals. Some missionaries I have heard peack when back stateside hint that not all churches like the women thing, but they are so dirt poor, that they are stuck in a bad spot. EECMY has just broke off ties with e_ca and Sweden over the homosexuality thins, and now free of those ties that bind, are looking more open and favorably to us. that they are moving is great. Our synod have long been known for superior educatoinal strength. So they are asking us to help them develop their seminary. Hmm, I think this is a great opportunity to share, and hopefully teach them more deep, othodox Lutheranism. One European country stopped ordaining women not long ago (Latvia comes to mind, but I just don’t remember). Now hopefully we can have a similar inpact on Ethiopia. We are not in altar and pulpit fellowhsip because we have just started the dialogue. To demand they give up their women pastors yesterday seems presumptuous on our part. I would hope we can show them Biblical ways, and that they will abondoned the practivce. Then later on , after they do, we can go to the next level and discuss altar and pulpit fellowhsip. Let’s try to build and strengthen that pathway, and pray the the Holy Spirit guides them into the Truth.

  5. @Jason #5

    I’m not entirely sure I follow your train of thought. When you can omit the L in elca and suggest supporting a seminary in which there is no altar pulpit fellowship seems to be a paradox. Which heterodox teachings are acceptable?

  6. From the EECMY Women’s Ministry Coordinating Office webpage, “Women’s Ordination“:

    The aim of the program is to open opportunities for women to take part in decision making processes in the Church and society… The anticipation is to see better participation of lay-women equipped adequately to be involved in the leadership of the Church and that more women are being called for ordination to serve the Church as pastors.

    In 1997 the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus 15th General Assembly passed a resolution that women can be ordained as pastors… From 2005 to 2008 the Women’s Ministry Coordinating Office has carried through a project called “Engendering Leadership and Promoting Women’s Ordination” in all the synods of the EECMY.

    From the EECMY Women’s Ministry Coordinating Office webpage, “Women challenged to accomplish the task they are called to do“:

    “Rev. Dr. Berhanu Ofgaa, EECMY General Secretary [shown in Dr. Collver’s video] in his opening remark to the participants of the consultation said the contribution of women is far beyond the traditional assumptions that limits women ministry in the church only to carrying out knitting works with the purpose of fund raising for the congregations…. He went on and added that the EECMY is the first Evangelical Church that gave recognition to the significance of the contribution of women in her wholistic services and accordingly called and assigned them to the Office of ordained ministry.

    In a February 14, 2013 article, The Reporter trumpeted EECMY’s break with the XXXA and the CoS, with LCMS leaders praising such actions. But the Reporter left out any mention of the 10+ years (and the Mekane Yesus Seminary celebration in 2010) of EECMY pastrixes.

    The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (ELCL) has an estimated 700,000 members, approximately 300 congregations in three dioceses. In 1993 Janis Vanags became the ELCL Bishop and opposed ordaining women as pastors. Since Bishop Vanags is the only person with authority to ordain in the ELCL, no women have been ordained since then.

    EECMY has an estimated 5 to 6 million members, and its bishop and seminary support ordaining pastrixes.

    The two churches are hardly comparable.

  7. Carl – I hear you and I agree that there are lots of issues with the EECMY. But this is a church the broke with the ELCA and the CoS and (as I understand it) sought us out for help and instruction. If an erring church self-corrects one error and asks for help what possible good can come from walking away? It seems there is an opportunity to correct through teaching here. Shouldn’t we take it and see if we are the means the Holy Spirit has determined to use to correct this church. The alternative seems to be to walk away and leave them to their own devices or worse.

    I would suggest engagement with hope and healthy skepticism.

  8. @Joe Olson #8

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting the LCMS shun the E__M_. Nevertheless, what is the help of which you speak? What is the engagement of which you speak? How do you suppose they will be corrected on an issue they appear to strongly support? Of course the LCMS should have discussion and education. I just don’t know what you mean.

  9. The help seems to be according to the video that we will be a big part of running their seminary. How can this not be a good thing? They know what our stand is and they still want us to teach them.

  10. @Quasicelsus #9

    Most importantly it is in discussions between our leadership and their’s but also in having a strong voice in their seminary. They’ve asked us to help them run their seminary. That is a great opportunity to correct false doctrine. Of course, if they prevent us from correcting the errors then we’ll have to back out of the seminary.

  11. The EECMY broke with the XXXA and CoS ostensibly over the issue of homosexual ordination. Whether the EECMY is interested in significantly moving toward the general vicinity of Lutheranism remains to be seen. I’m not opposed to a Missouri Synod commitment to help in the Lutheran pastoral training.

    But I would like to see fewer snowjobs dumped on Missouri Synod laity, either on videos or in LCMS publications seeking special financial contributions from congregational members.

    Dr. Rockrohr’s stated five-year goal of 12,000 additional EECMY pastors at the EECMY’s Mekane Yesus seminary in Addis Ababa averages 2,400 pastors per year. The Mekane Yesus seminary currently has about 150 students. Even if the combined faculties of both LCMS seminaries were to move to the Mekane Yesus seminary and graduate men after only one year of training, that goal probably would still not be met.

    And will Dr. Rockrohr, in his job, be training Ethiopian women to be pastors at the seminary as the EECMY and its leadership is committed to doing? How does that work for a member of the LCMS? Does he get special dispensation from Article VI?

  12. 20 women pastors in a synod of 6,100,000 doesn’t seem to be a very popular trend.  Seems to me there’s a good and effective opportunity to encourage men only clergy. Nicholas is correct.

  13. Quasicelsus :If i understand you correctly that seems to be in flagrant disregard for Confessional Lutheranism.

    I meant that it is not too late for the EECMY to reverse its position and disallow pastrixes. But it must do it soon.

    Decades ago it may have looked like the LCMS would go the way of the mainliners, but that was not God’s will. That doesn’t mean we can breathe easy though. There will always be those who come from among us but are not of us (Becker, Wyneken, Benke, Domsch, Linnemann, Kieschnick, et al.)

  14. Dr. Rockrohr (video at 2:25 – 2:38) : “One of the important tasks that I will have as the dean of the school of theology at Mekane Yesus seminary is to help the seminary achieve the five-year goal of training 12,000 additional pastors for the church body.”

    But Resolution 1-01 (2013 Today’s Business, p. 48) states that “representatives from the EECMY requested the LCMS to provide leadership in the area of theological education to its central seminary and five regional seminaries as it seeks to train and ordain 10,000 pastors over the next decade.”

    So which is it?

  15. From Resolution 4-04 (2013 Today’s Business, p. 89): “The EECMY made the decision to sever fellowship with the ELCA and with the CoS, which has been her historic partner for approximately a hundred years. The EECMY indicated that the CoS and the ELCA no longer teach the same Lutheran doctrine that the missionaries who came to Ethiopia a century ago taught.”

    However the EECMY’s February 11, 2013, letter terminating partnership with ELCA and CoS states: “It is recalled, earlier in 2006, two of the major partners of the EECMY, namely the Church of Sweden and later, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, passed decisions that favor Homosexual practices and blessing of same sex marriage. The EECMY noted this as a surprise and immediately reacted against and earnestly requested for reconsideration of their decisions. To the contrary, these two Churches, going further, resolved to legalize same sex marriage and calling of gay persons into ordained ministry.”

    There is no mention of the EECMY objecting to the XXXA or CoS ordaining women into the Pastoral Office, or to the position of the XXXA or CoS on Scriptural inerrancy, or their rejection of the 3rd use of the Law, or acceptance of the JDDJ. Were Lutheran missionaries teaching these positions a century ago?

  16. In the video, Dr. Collver states “…the Mekane Yesus church and the Missouri Synod are not in altar and pulpit fellowship”.

    But the 2013 Convention Workbook noted (p. 75) “The LCMS, working with various synods (which are similar to the LCMS districts) of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), signed a partnership agreement with the EECMY in January 2010 that formalized the relationship for mutual mission as church bodies and provided a framework for the exploring each other’s understanding of our Lutheran identity.”

    Is this selective fellowship agreement on “mutual mission as church bodies” between the EECMY and LCMS still in effect? Where can one find a copy of this agreement text?

  17. Dr. Collver (video): “The Missouri Synod has been asked to walk along side of the 6.1 million member Mekane Yesus Lutheran Church in Ethiopia.”

    In addition to the “formal agreement” between the Mekane Yesus Lutheran Church in Ethiopia (EECMY) and the Missouri Synod with for “mutual mission as church bodies,” (which still has not been found on the LCMS web site), the EECMY has another formal agreement with NALC, as announced in the NALC News (November 2012, p. 3):

    A Full Communion Agreement between the North American Lutheran Church and the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus was signed Nov. 11 in Hilliard, Ohio.

    The signing came as a result of decisions by both church bodies to enter into this agreement. The 2011 NALC Convocation unanimously approved the full communion relationship. It was then ratified by NALC congregations.

    In striving to reach their goal of training pastors, Mekane Yesus seminary may well employ NALC missionaries teaching EECMY’s position for pastrixes in classrooms next to classrooms where LCMS missionaries (might) teach that women are not to be pastors.


  18. From LCMS BOD Minutes (February 21-22, 2013, p. 180):

    President Matthew Harrison spoke of “good news for worldwide Lutheranism,” evidenced by the action taken by the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus to pursue fellowship with the Missouri Synod. He noted that this decision will have great influence throughout Africa, where relationships with the LCMS continue to grow stronger. It constitutes the “largest shift in Lutheranism in our lifetime, probably two lifetimes.” It matters greatly for the sake of regard for the Small Catechism, lost in recent times in the European north where Lutherans no long are able to draw lines on any theological issues. This is African Lutheranism saying it will not go the same route as the Europeans, important for the Lutheran Confessions around the world. [Emphasis added]

    Just how far has this (selective) fellowship extended?

    Well, the General Secretary of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), re-elected for four more years in 2010, is Rev. Dr. Berhanu Ofgaa, responsible for the administration of the EECMY at large, serving next to the EECMY president, Dr. Wakseyoum Idosa.

    Berhanu E Ofgaa is also listed on the LCMS roster as colloquized by the LCMS on April 20, 2002, and is currently listed as a Missionary within the Ohio District.

    If Matthew Becker is to be castigated (as he should) for his promotion of pastrixes, how does Berhanu Ofgaa, who promotes pastrixes, get a pass?

  19. I wrote to the LCMS International Center:

    In January 2010, the Missouri Synod signed a formal “partnership agreement” with the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) that formalized the “relationship for mutual mission as church bodies.”

    Is the text of that formal agreement available on the LCMS website? If not, how may I obtain a copy of that signed agreement?

    Dr. Albert B. Collver, director of LCMS church relations, replied back to me and stated:

    “LCMS legal counsel informed me that it is not wise to place these sorts of documents on the web as they are proprietary and privileged communications between the President of the LCMS and other church leaders. In fact, we cannot publicize the agreements between church bodies without permission of the church bodies.”

    Dr. Collver emphasized, as he did in the video, that the LCMS-EECMY agreement is not a declaration of altar and pulpit fellowship between two church bodies.

    Dr. Collver did provide the goal of the EECMY working agreement:

    “The LCMS and EECMY have developed their ecclesiastical character under very different historical, political and ecclesiastical frames of reference. On the basis of this partnership agreement we seek a deeper understanding of each other’s theology and practice as well as an understanding of the challenges and problems that confront each church. We will give priority to spending time together — learning from each other.”

    Dr. Collver’s travels to Ethiopia are to fulfill parts of the LCMS-EECMY agreement.

  20. @Carl Vehse #21
    Dr. Collver is top-notch. Trust him. He is a solid guy, unwavering in the Confessions and orthodox stance as Lutherans. No need for concern. Pray these engagements produce fruit.

  21. “Dr. Collver is top-notch. Trust him.”

    Whether recalling 1 John 4:1 or an old Russian proverb, “doveryai no proveryai” (trust, but verify), one wonders what the Lutheran Church would be like today if the various church leaders and theologians, who met to prepare and sign the Lutheran Symbols, had been advised by the Saxon legal counsel that it is not wise to make these sorts of documents publicly available as they are proprietary and privileged communications between the various Electors and other church leaders.

  22. One common feature of two church bodies, which are in Altar and Pulpit Fellowship, is that a pastor of one church body can serve as a pastor in the other church body, hence the name Altar and PULPIT Fellowship.

    Rev. Berhanu Ofgaa is a LCMS rostered pastor eligible to receive a call to a Missouri Synod congregation. Rev. Berhanu Ofgaa is also the Executive Secretary (and has been for four years) of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), which is NOT in Altar and Pulpit Fellowship with the Missouri Synod. The EECMY practices the ordination of women into the Pastoral Office and currently has about twenty pastrixes. The LCMS and EECMY have a formal partnership agreement, but the text of that agreement is not publicly available on the advice of LCMS legal counsel.

    Last year the EECMY established Altar and Pulpit Fellowship with the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) which also ordains women into the Pastoral Office. The text of that fellowship agreement is readily available on the internet.

  23. On its website, Christian-Muslim Relations Program, the EECMY, with the approval of its President and Executive Secretary (who is also a rostered LCMS member), declares among its objectives as a church –

    “To strengthen ecumenical efforts and to promote the “Program for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa” (ProCMuRA).”

    And on another EECMY-CMR webpage, the EECMY lists among its Christian-Muslim Relations Program activities: “Training of ministers of both religions.”

    One wonders if EECMY Seminary School of Theology Dean (and LCMS missionary) Carl Rockrohr will oversee training islamoterrorist ministers in Sharia law and how to behead Christian infidels.

  24. @Carl Vehse #25

    That’s very troubling. Ultimately, the EECMY will need to end the CMR program, ban women’s “ordination,” sever ties with LWF, and make any other necessary reforms. Any LCMS dialogue with EECMY should be to this end. In the event that EECMY doesn’t do these things, then the LCMS would ultimately have to sever ties with them.

  25. @Carl Vehse #24

    That’s bad news as well. The LCMS should make all of its documents publicly available.

    As for NALC, one of it’s representatives told Dr. Jordan Cooper that NALC actually forbids the teaching of Scriptural inerrancy in its churches:

    NALC seems to differ from the ELCA *only* on the matter of ordaining practicing homosexuals. That does not make NALC Christian.

  26. I read all the comments written above, and am surprised by the fact that all the comments are concerned about how to “educate” EECMY with the “right Lutheran Doctrine,” and that there was not a single thought about the possibility of creating dialectic relationship between the EECMY and LCMS. Why are these LCMS members not able to see the possibility that the LCMS can also learn from the EECMY? When we compare the EECMY with that of LCMS, which church has a better historical root that testifies to a more richer understanding about scripture?

    The EECMY’s request for help with regard to theological training has always been based on creating a dialectic relationship whereby all institutions that work with the EECMY should understand that they are called to a humble service of the Lord–not as masters who have all kinds of knowledge to educate others. If the LCMS leaders also hold the “mastership” attitude towards EECMY, I do not think the relationship will last very long.


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