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Greetings to the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Lesotho Evangelical Church

Greetings brought to the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Lesotho Evangelical Church by the WCC’s associate general secretary Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri on behalf of the WCC general secretary.

13 May 2015

Greetings brought to the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Lesotho Evangelical Church by the WCC’s associate general secretary Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri on behalf of Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches

Dear members of the of the Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa,
the LECSA Moderator Rev. Tseliso Masemene

the LECSA Executive Secretary Rev. Khethang Posholi.
Your Excellencies, Eminences, Ecumenical guests,
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

It is a pleasure and honour for me to bring to you greetings on behalf of Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, who would have wanted to be with you during these days of golden jubilee celebrations of the Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa.  Unfortunately the invitation came to him at a time when he had already committed himself elsewhere. Therefore he asked me to represent him here. On this day of celebration, I have three things to share: appreciation for the missionary legacy of this church and of Christianity in Africa; praise for your clear witness for God in your context and I conclude by bringing you an invitation to the pilgrimage of justice and peace.

 

Appreciation for the missionary legacy

The choice of Morija as a venue of the final days of the jubilee celebrations is a reminder to us to appreciate the missionary legacy of this church. We are reminded that the Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa has its roots in the missionary work of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society which built its first mission here in Morija in 1833.  This is a good reminder that the missionary legacy of this church is still important in forming the identity of its Basotho Christians. It gives us a reason to thank God for our Basotho traditional leaders who had the vision from God to call the missionaries from France in Europe to come and share the gospel with the people here. We are also grateful to God for the missionaries who obeyed God’s call to them. It is a time to remind each other that the missionaries did not bring God to a godless society. The knowledge of God was already there. It is the revelation of God through our Lord Jesus Christ that they brought here. We are further reminded that this church is part of a wider community of Christians, some of whom are in this country and others are in in the global community. This gathering is a witness to the big family that traces their origins in faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Praise for the witness of God’s church in your context

The golden jubilee celebrations are a reminder that the Basotho received the gospel and made it their own. One of the indications that the Christian faith in Lesotho has truly become an African religion and no longer to be perceived as an imported religion is when this church became autonomous in 1964 under Basotho leadership.  The Jubilee celebrations is a good occasion for us to evaluate whether or not the Christian faith as lived in this church is deeply rooted in the African soil, and therefore it is providing answers to African problems in the church and in the Basotho society. Does this church bear the distinctive marks of a truly faithful church of God rooted in the African soil? What are the questions that the Basotho Christians are asking today and how is the church being prophetic in answering those questions? I leave that to you to ponder.

 

Since the inception of this church, you have become relevant in this country through your missionary activities in the areas of: education; health; printing press and advocacy for a just society. The diaconal and ecumenical dimensions of your activities are in line with the vision statement of your church which states that you:  ‘envisions and aspires for a healing (II Chronicles 7:14), well-informed and empowered community, which is able to bring about renewal, transformation and peace with justice.’

 

The WCC praises you also for your active participation in the ecumenical bodies which bears testimony to the oneness of the body of Christ. This is witnessed through your involvement in the Christian Council of Lesotho, All African Conference of Churches, World Communion of Reformed Churches and the World Council of Churches itself. Your testimony of faithfulness in the ecumenical movement is greatly praised.

 

An invitation to the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace

One of the key outcomes of the World Council of Churches (WCC) 2013 Busan assembly was an invitation to Christians and people of good will from everywhere to join in a pilgrimage of justice and peace. The assembly theme ‘God of Life, lead us to Justice and Peace’ formed a uniting prayer bringing together the diversity of concerns and expectations into a framework for understanding and commitment to move forward together in a pilgrimage of justice and peace. I now extend this invitation once more to you to deliberate on how you are going to make this pilgrimage of justice and peace a reality in your context. The key elements to the pilgrimage are: a) it is spiritual, therefore it involves identifying the gifts that God has already given the church in Lesotho in order to embark on this pilgrimage. b) it is contextual in that it demands you to do an analysis of your context in order to identify areas of brokenness where God’s people and creation are hurting and where you feel Jesus Christ is calling you to respond. At the same time it brings you into contact with global issues of brokenness. c) it is transformational in that you are called to bring healing, reconciliation, peace with justice to the brokenness you identified. Whatever ways you decide to be involved in the pilgrimage, the ecumenical movement would like to know about it. Therefore let us share our stories.

In conclusion, it is the prayer of the WCC that the God of justice will continue to lead you to justice and peace. Amen