PASTOR-TO-PASTOR TEAM TO MALAWI, AFRICA
Departing the U.S. in September, an Awakening Lives to World Missions (ALWM) team of two pastors and one lay person traveled to Lilongwe, Malawi, to conduct a week of teaching with the pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Malawi (ELCM) and a second week with pastors and church leaders in a small, remote African village near Lake Malawi. Bishop Joseph Bvumbwe, Bishop of the ELCM, welcomed Pastor Tom Curry (Living Faith Lutheran Church, Wabash, Ind.), Pastor Larry Wood, Mr. Robert Scales (Emmanuel Bethel Church, Royal Oak, Mich.). Pastor Curry presented Bishop Bvumbwe with a letter of greeting from Bishop John Bradosky of the NALC.
The week of teaching at both sites had the two-fold focus of pastoral care and church history. The ELCM Pastor Conference ran from Monday, September 23 to Friday September 27. Birthed in 1982 as a daughter of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania, the ELCM has about 60 pastors total and approximately 500 congregations. Fifty-five pastors were in attendance at the pastors’ conference. Most pastors at the conference had a year of formal pastoral training beyond high school. They were blessed beyond words by the opportunity to increase their understanding of pastoral care and Lutheran theology. Pastor Feston Phiri, ELCM training coordinator, commented that “the pastors will not leave the conference the same that they came.” The ELCM presently has all male clergy but in two years plans to ordain their first female pastor. Four women were in attendance at the conference.
The second pastors’ conference (September 30 – October 4) was conducted in a small village near Salima. Pastor Philip Phiri of The Pillar of Fire denomination hosted the week of training, which included about 30 pastors and 45 church leaders. Most pastors had no formal pastoral/theological training and pastor 6-8 congregations. All who attended received an ALWM certificate of training. They expressed over and over again how blessed they were by the teaching. Mr. Scales provided much needed support to the two teaching pastors, gave his own faith story and offered a presentation on his church’s outreach to Detroit’s homeless.
The team arrived back in the U.S. on Tuesday, October 8, feeling honored, humbled and privileged to have invested in the lives of some 80 pastors and many more church leaders. Awakening Lives to World Missions, a NALC Ministry Partner, is grateful to the supporting churches and individuals who partnered to make this trip possible.
Written by: Pastor Tom Curry, serving at Living Faith Lutheran Church in Wabash, Indiana.