LWF emergency team meets with affected community in Mozambique after Cyclone IdaiIMG_1097IMG_1114Dear friends,
I have just returned from a visit to Mozambique where I met with Bishop Sinalo and colleagues at the head office of the Evangelical Lutheran in Mozambique (IELM) in the capital city of Maputo.
I was also in Chimoio in west-central Mozambique and travelled with the Dean of the Central District and local pastors to visit the Martin Luther Clinic at Munene.
The clinic and ambulance (with ELCA Global Mission support) continue to provide vital health care services for rural communities in the area.
The mud-brick church at Munene was destroyed by Cyclone Desmond in late 2018. Members of the congregation have been molding bricks and are busy re-building the church.
In Chimoio I also met up with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) emergency response team. The LWF team is part of the ACT Alliance appeal (SAF191) assisting communities in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe affected by Cyclone Idai which caused hundreds of deaths and displaced thousands of households in mid-April. For the next 6 – 24 months the LWF team, in collaboration with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mozambique and other ecumenical and government agencies, will be focusing on providing emergency food, shelter and WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) assistance.
Bishop Sinalo expressed appreciation for the continuing companionship, prayers and support from the ELCA, LWF and partners of the IELM.
Thank you for your participation in God’s mission locally and globally.
Yours faithfully,
Rev. Dr. Philip Knutson
ELCA Global Mission Regional Representative – Southern Africa, Johannesburg, May 25, 2019

My blog page address is: https://southernafricanconnections.wordpress.com/ Please note the link to my online giving page on http://www.elca.org: community.elca.org/SouthAfrica

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WICAS 5Dear friends,
April 27 is known as Freedom Day in the Republic of South Africa. Twenty-five years ago, on April 27 1994, millions of South Africans stood patiently in line to vote in the first democratic elections marking the end of the Apartheid regime. After the release from prison of Nelson Mandela in 1990 and other leaders negotiations took place to write a new constitution and bill of rights. It was a difficult process and precarious time. After centuries of colonialism and decades of exclusion and oppression under Apartheid the people were committed to forging a new inclusive democracy based on human rights for all. The Bill of Rights (Chapter 2:9:3) declares:
Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law. The state (or any person) may not unfairly discriminate against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.
While remarkable political freedoms have been achieved there is still an ongoing struggle to achieve socio-economic justice and equity not only in South Africa but all around the world.
Recently I was invited to be a presenter at a consultation sponsored by the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa (LUCSA) for women clergy and leaders from the member churches in the Southern Africa region meeting as Women in Church and Society (WICAS) and the Female Theologians Forum (FTF). The theme of the conference was “Reconstructing the Threshold through Gender Justice.” The program included devotions, Bible studies, presentations, discussions and group work focusing on implementing gender justice policies and support networks in and between member churches.
Members of the consultation expressed interest in the Social Statement on Women and Justice to be presented for adoption at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in August 2019.
The ELCA Global Mission unit has expressed its commitment to Gender Justice by strategically including gender justice as a cross-cutting priority in the unit’s workplan for 2018-2019.
Thank you for your prayers and support and your participation in God’s mission locally and globally.
Yours faithfully,
Rev. Dr. Philip Knutson
ELCA Global Mission Regional Representative – Southern Africa, Johannesburg, April 27, 2019

My blog page address is: https://southernafricanconnections.wordpress.com/ Please note the link to my online giving page on http://www.elca.org: community.elca.org/SouthAfrica

Ruins of home destroyed by Cyclone Idai March 2019 Bikita District Zimbabwe Photo by Bishop A. Moyo

Dear friends,

On March 14 the port city of Beira in Mozambique and the eastern parts of Zimbabwe and southern Malawi were hit by one of the biggest tropical cyclones ever recorded in the southern African region. Within hours, Cyclone Idai took hundreds of lives, toppled homes, uprooted trees and left thousands of people homeless.
A few days after the storm Rev. Macuacua the General Secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mozambique (IELM) wrote:
“Thank you for your prayers and solidarity for the people in Mozambique. Actually the situation is too bad and it needs prompt intervention…. From Maputo we are monitoring the situation and fortunately today we succeeded to speak with our pastor serving in that affected area. He updated us about the situation on the ground. Our chapels in Beira city, Mafambise, Nhamatanda (In Sofala province), Munene, (in Manica province) and Chipera (in Tete province) were destroyed. ‘Up to now no deaths of our church members [have been reported] but they lost everything,’ says the pastor… The IELM has started to mobilize aid internally to help the needy people in Beira.”
Presiding Bishop Faindi of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZ) wrote about the situation in Zimbabwe:
“I hope I find you well. In this time of hopelessness, you come in to console us. Cyclone Idai has hit us hard. The whole nation is mourning. … Many people were swept away. A school was swept away, killing children and members of staff. … Villages, shops, roads and bridges were destroyed. This is our first experience to how deadly these cyclones could be. … The government declared this a national disaster … Churches have come on board to try and help the surviving victims of cyclone Idai. … Yes, we are working on a small-scale disaster response fund. … We shall inform you when all has been worked out.”  (See attached photo from Bikita District, Zimbabwe taken by Bishop A. Moyo)
In the wake of heavy rains and flooding Bishop J. Bvumbwe of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi wrote: “Yes we have seen and experienced disasters in the past but never to the size and magnitudes of this kind. Lives and livelihoods have been lost and many left without hope. Your words of encouragement and prayers are therefore very meaningful and greatly appreciated.”
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – Global Mission is in communication with our companion churches in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe as well as the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa (LUCSA) as they assess the situation and see how best to support the churches and communities affected.
Thank you for your prayers and support and your participation in God’s mission locally and globally.
Yours faithfully,
Rev. Dr. Philip Knutson
ELCA Global Mission Regional Representative – Southern Africa, Johannesburg, March 29, 2019

My blog page address is: https://southernafricanconnections.wordpress.com/ Please note the link to my online giving page on http://www.elca.org: community.elca.org/SouthAfrica

 

IMG_0888 (2)Grantmaker Training Malawi Feb 2019Dear friends,
“United through LUCSA to end HIV & AIDS and Malaria” was the theme of the Regional Annual Review and Planning Workshop for HIV & AIDS Resource Persons and Malaria Programme Country Coordinators held in Johannesburg earlier this month. Reports on achievements and challenges were shared by participants from Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa (LUCSA) member churches across Southern Africa including Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Swaziland, Malawi and South Africa.
A highlight of the week was a two-day mini-workshop on the concepts and methods of “Popular Education.” Popular education is defined as people-based education for a just, humane and truly democratic society where everyone is valued as a learner and teacher. The approach is dialogical and democratic rather than top-down as in the “banking” method of education.
Workshop participants also shared and discussed their activity plans for 2019 and ways of collaborating and sharing information across the region. (The ELCA provides funding support for the LUCSA HIV&AIDS and Malaria programs.)
At the end of February I spent a week in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, to introduce the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi (ELCM) to a new online grant application and reporting software program developed for use by the ELCA churchwide office, synods and global companion churches and partners.
The ELCA Global Mission unit through Project and World Hunger Funds supports a number of projects of the ELCM including Mission Outreach, Empowerment of Women and Children, HIV&AIDS, a mobile community clinic and feeding of vulnerable and orphan children.
ELCM Bishop Joseph Bvumbwe expressed appreciation for the close relationship between the ELCM, the ELCA Global Mission unit and the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin which is a companion synod of the ELCM.
Thank you for your prayers and support and your participation in God’s mission locally and globally.
Yours faithfully,

Rev. Dr. Philip Knutson
ELCA Global Mission Regional Representative – Southern Africa, Johannesburg, February 22, 2019

My blog page address is: https://southernafricanconnections.wordpress.com/ Please note the link to my online giving page on http://www.elca.org: community.elca.org/SouthAfric

img-20190120-wa000020190120_094023Dear friends,
Over 1500 people gathered at the Diocesan Center of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa – Central Diocese for the induction of the newly elected Dean of the Soweto Circuit Rev. J. Mogale. He will serve a six-year term.
The Prayer Women’s League members were prominent in their black and white uniforms as were the men, young adults and youth.
Bishop MW Rakuba of the ELCSA Central Diocese presided at the induction service. Dean Mogale preached the sermon based on the epistle reading from 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. The Dean emphasized the varieties of God-given gifts given to each person by the one Spirit for the common good.
The music, led by a brass band and a drummer together with a mass choir and the joyful singing of hymns and choruses in various local languages by the whole congregation, was a highlight of the celebration.
The service ended with Holy Communion, the gathering in of gifts and a meal. Each parish came forward in turn, dancing and singing, to bring their envelope to the front of the church where the Dean and Mrs. Mogale were seated.
I was honoured to bring a greeting to the congregation on behalf of ELCA Global Mission and the ELCA Metropolitan Chicago Synod.
Thank you for your prayers and support and your participation in God’s mission locally and globally.
Yours faithfully,

Rev. Dr. Philip Knutson
ELCA Global Mission Regional Representative – Southern Africa
Johannesburg
January 21, 2019

My blog page address is: https://southernafricanconnections.wordpress.com/ Please note the link to my online giving page on http://www.elca.org: community.elca.org/SouthAfrica

Christmas Program St. Thomas Congregation Nov 2018Dear friends,
“Jesus Christ, the Light of the World” was the theme for the Christmas program presented by the Sunday School children of St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Doornfontein, Johannesburg. (St. Thomas is a congregation in the Central Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa [ELCSA])
In Southern Africa Christmas comes during summertime and schools and many businesses close down from mid-December to mid-January. Even the church choirs take a break. So, most Christmas programs are held in late November.
The children practised hard for several weeks before their special day. They were in charge of the service, leading the liturgy, doing the readings and the prayers. The whole group stood in front to sing “This little light of mine.” One of the children played “Silent Night” on the violin. The service ended with Holy Communion, with all of the children communing first, before the rest of the congregation.

Finally, it was time for the gifts. The parents had purchased, packaged and labelled a gift for each child. As the name was read out each child walked (some younger ones literally sprinted) to the front and received their gift to the applause of the congregation.
One of the mothers who is also a council member then gave a vote of thanks on behalf of the congregation to the Sunday School teachers, the children and everyone who had prepared for the service. She recalled that just a few years ago there was no active Sunday School program at St. Thomas saying, “You have planted seeds that will bear much fruit in the lives of these children and in the church for years to come.”
The Central Diocese of ELCSA is a companion to the ELCA’s Metropolitan Chicago Synod.
Thank you for your prayers and support and your participation in God’s mission locally and globally.
Yours faithfully,

Rev. Dr. Philip Knutson
ELCA Global Mission Regional Representative – Southern Africa
Johannesburg
November 26, 2018

My blog page address is: https://southernafricanconnections.wordpress.com/
Please note the link to my online giving page on http://www.elca.org: community.elca.org/SouthAfrica

IMG_0744Dear friends,
Youth under the age of 30 make up some 70% of the population in Southern Africa and face many challenges related to education, unemployment, gender justice, health and climate change. So, are youth pessimistic or optimistic, afraid or hopeful about the future?
Seven young adults representing several member churches of the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa (LUCSA) met recently at the Lutheran center in Johannesburg to start planning for an all LUCSA youth conference in 2019. (LUCSA, with fifteen member churches across ten countries in Southern Africa, is a sub-regional expression of the Lutheran World Federation [LWF])
The youth unanimously and energetically agreed to work with the LWF theme for 2019-2024 “With passion for the Church and the World.”
The committee worked on a draft program that will include reports on youth activities from member churches, as well as Bible studies, presentations and discussions. The conference will focus on what it means to be “Young Reformers” working for revival in the church, Lutheran identity, diakonia, gender justice and care for creation. The LUCSA INFOHUT program which teaches computer skills and life skills including information about HIV & AIDS will be a key part of the program.
The LUCSA youth are enthusiastic and committed to establishing a Youth Desk in the Communion Office, to building strong relationships between youth in the member churches and making a lasting difference in their respective churches and in the region.
Thank you for your prayers and support and your participation in God’s mission locally and globally.
Yours faithfully,

Rev. Dr. Philip Knutson
ELCA Global Mission Regional Representative – Southern Africa
Johannesburg
November 07, 2018

My blog page address is: https://southernafricanconnections.wordpress.com/
Please note the link to my online giving page on http://www.elca.org: community.elca.org/SouthAfrica