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WCC joins Tanzanian service observing Reformation anniversary

WCC joins Tanzanian service observing Reformation anniversary

Photo: Pamela Valdes/WCC

03 November 2017

A delegation from the World Council of Churches (WCC) participated in a service marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at the Ilboru parish of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCT) in Arusha, Tanzania.

In preparation for the WCC Conference on World Mission and Evangelism taking place 8-13 March 2018 in Arusha, a WCC delegation visited the city to meet with the local hosting committee from the ELCT.

The committee extended an invitation to participate in the service observing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Bishop Solomon Massangwa, from the North Central ELCT diocese, opened the service in front of the parish’s monument which was specially built to commemorate the Reformation anniversary. The monument, intending to represent the eternity of God, displays a black cross erected upon a large stone Bible with an inscription written in Swahili that reads: “Neema Tu, Imani tu, Keno tu, Kristo tu, Utukufu kwa Mungu,” meaning: “God’s Grace only, Faith only, God’s word only, Christ only, God’s Glory only.”

A congregation of more than 1,200 partook in the celebration which included children and adult choirs who performed African worship songs and Maasai chants.

The central message of Massangwa’s sermon emphasised how the Reformation entails transformation, moving from inaction to action, and called on churches to see this as a renewal of the self that should not be resisted.

He also reminded the congregation of Luther’s message that “Salvation is not for sale”.  He further stated: “Christians sometimes hide laziness through prayers” and that therefore we “must work hard to follow God’s wish”.

To mark this special celebration, Massangwa planted an evergreen tree, named after the capital city of Tanzania, Dodoma. The tree represents God’s grace and will be enjoyed by the community for generations to come.

In the ceremony’s closing message, Massanwa reminded the congregation: “We are liberated by God’s grace” (Ephesians 2: 8).


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