In May of 2018, I was contacted by Rev. Peter Maganda, dean of the Eastern District of the Lutheran Church of Uganda (LCU) and also dean of students at the Lutheran Theological College in Magamaga. He was very interested in our renewal weekend program. We sent him all of our material so that the LCU could start planning renewal weekends for congregations in the Eastern Deanery. Three very successful weekends were held in the fall and, as a result, I was invited by Pastor Peter and Bishop, Rev. Charles Bameka to visit Uganda for nine days in January.
The primary purpose of the visit was to lead a three-day renewal conference for 80 pastors, evangelists, seminarians and lay leaders at the Lutheran Theological College. The first two days of the conference we went through our renewal weekend program so that everyone could experience it for themselves. This was followed by an opportunity to talk about what people got out of the program, what they thought the benefits are and if they thought our renewal weekend would be beneficial for their home congregations. The answer was a hearty and unanimous yes!
On the third day, I led a retreat on “7 Lessons for Living a Spiritual Life,” a retreat Lutheran Lay Renewal has led in many congregations across the U.S. This was followed by a Divine Service, with Bishop Charles Bameka preaching. I had many opportunities to talk to Bishop Charles and other LCU leaders while I was in Uganda and the bishop told me I was the first person from the NALC to visit Uganda to minister with the church there.
While in Uganda, I also had the opportunity to visit nine congregations with Pastor Peter, including attending the first worship service at a new church plant. It’s amazing to see what the LCU is accomplishing with very limited financial resources. The Lutheran Church of Uganda was started in 1994 and in 25 years has planted over 140 congregations, and now has over 50,000 members. Pastors are not paid a salary, as the people are too poor to support a pastor, so pastors have to provide the income to support their families. Many do so by growing and selling crops.
The Lutheran Theological College in Magamaga was built in 2016 and currently has 56 students training to be pastors, with 28 more coming in the next year. The college is in great need of financial support to support students and finish construction, as well as to provide books for the students and the library. The cost to support a seminarian for a year is $2,500 and only 18 of 56 current students are receiving this support.
Lutheran Lay Renewal is trying to help the seminary by collecting books and the funds to purchase books. A pastor from the U.S. just arrived with copies of the Book of Concord to give to the students and the next goal is to be able to give each student a Lutheran Study Bible. Next on the list is Luther’s Small Catechism. Any congregation that is willing to help the LCU, please see our website for additional details: http://www.lutheranrenewal.com
Bill Oehlschlager, Executive Director, Lutheran Lay Renewal of America