National Bishop Susan C. Johnson

Rev Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, writes a regular column for each issue of Canada Lutheran.

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National Bishop's Turn

Postcard from Tanzania

The recent gathering of our worldwide communion brings perspective to our own mission and ministry.

Karibu, which is a Swahili word of greeting! I'm writing to you from the council meeting of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) as we gather in Arusha, Tanzania. The gathering of the worldwide communion, the meeting with people, the worship, and even the business remind me of our vision to be a church In Mission for Others.

Diverse Faces: Every time the council gathers, I am awed by the wonder of a gathering from such a wide variety of ethnicities, languages, and human experience. I feel so keenly the inherent privilege that I have—privilege as an English speaker, privilege of being from a wealthy nation, privilege as I am reminded of my personal wealth (in a global perspective). The diversity of faces I see is also represented within Canada. My hope and prayer is that our church would be more and more welcoming, reflecting the diversity found in our local communities.

Compassionate Justice: I am reminded of the partnership we have with Lutherans around the world in reaching out in relief and development work. I am proud of the actions taken by council to address various justice concerns—climate change, illegitimate debt, human trafficking, the conflict in Zimbabwe, Israel, and Palestine.

Focused Framework: The LWF is also undertaking a renewal process, attempting to deal with diminishing finances, the need for a clearer governance structure, and the realities of a changing world. The suggestions for renewal are challenging and push many people out of their comfort zone. The final outcome is still up in the air, but it certainly is a lively process!

Spirited Discipleship: I am overwhelmed by the energy and passion of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT). The local diocese in Arusha is working with a vision statement that every Christian is an evangelist. The ELCT is the fastest growing church in the LWF, experiencing 34.2 per cent growth last year! What can we learn about sharing our faith from our Tanzanian sisters and brothers? How can we bring the spirit of joy and exuberance to our worship experiences?

Effective Partnerships: Well, in some ways that is what the LWF is all about. We work together as a global communion to more effectively do certain aspects of mission and ministry. We participate globally in ecumenical dialogues. We respond to human need as a communion and in partnership with other agencies through Action by Churches Together. We learn and share and challenge and grow and deepen our faith through our partnership.

Asante Bwana (thank you Lord) for the work of The Lutheran World Federation and for our partnership in the gospel!


Bishop Susan C. Johnson

Canada Lutheran, July/August 2008