Thursday, January 03, 2008

Kenya and Lutherans


January 3, 2008

Lutherans Seek Resolution to Violent Dispute in Kenya

CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Officials of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA) and Lutheran World Federation (LWF)
called for peace in the Republic of Kenya and for resolution of a
dispute over election results that has escalated into violence.
The ELCA confirmed its missionaries in Kenya are safe, and it is
sending an initial $25,000 to assist emergency relief efforts in
east-central Africa.
More than 300 people have died in violent protests in Kenya
since the Dec. 27 presidential election, in which the incumbent
Mwai Kibaki declared victory over Raila Odinga of the opposition
Orange Democratic Movement. The government there estimates as
many as 75,000 people have been displaced internally by the
"We pray that all parties will work toward a peaceful
resolution of the post-election crisis in Kenya and that the
violence, which has touched the lives of so many, will cease,"
said the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop and LWF
"The ELCA is committed to supporting the Kenya Evangelical
Lutheran Church (KELC) during this time of unrest, as it provides
basic assistance to individuals in communities hard-hit by the
violence. We do so in the context of our relationship with the
Lutheran World Federation, ecumenical partners and global
companions," Hanson said.
The KELC and ELCA have a relationship which includes the
placement of eight mission personnel in Kenya. "We are closely
monitoring the situation, and all of our personnel report that
they are safe," said the Rev. Stephen J. Nelson, director for
international personnel, ELCA Global Mission. "We continue to be
in communication with them about safety and security as the
situation in Kenya continues to unfold," he said.
ELCA missionaries in Kenya include a husband and wife team
serving the Nairobi International Lutheran Congregation, a health
care consultant for HIV and AIDS ministries throughout Africa and
his family, and two ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission, who are
part of a joint program in Kenya with the Presbyterian Church
ELCA International Disaster Response is sending an initial
$10,000 to the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church, for its
emergency response in affected communities in Kenya. It is
sending another $15,000 to Church World Service, which together
with Norwegian Church Aid is helping facilitate the worldwide
response of Action by Churches Together (ACT). The ACT response
also supports the emergency work of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in Kenya, another LWF member church.
Coordinated by ELCA Global Mission, ELCA International
Disaster Response channels its funds through international church
organizations and relief agencies. Funds provide for food,
medicine, drinking water, emergency shelter and other materials
for survivors of disasters.
ACT is a global alliance of churches and related agencies
working to save lives and support communities in emergency
situations worldwide. It is based in Geneva with the LWF and
World Council of Churches (WCC). The ELCA is a member of the LWF
and WCC.
The Rev. Ishmael Noko, a Zimbabwean theologian and LWF
general secretary, Geneva, issued a Jan. 3 statement urging the
leaders of Kenya's major political parties to "urgently pursue
constructive dialogue to end the impasse." He said, "There can
be no political justification for the loss of life, senseless
destruction of homes and property, and insecurity that have
resulted from this violence."
The LWF general secretary said Kenya had undergone a
democratic political transition that offered a concrete
expression of an "African renaissance." The light of "this
beacon of hope is being extinguished by the post-election
violence targeting certain ethnic communities," he said.
"It is my earnest prayer that the people of Kenya will be
preserved from violence and that the world will respond with
compassion and generosity to the humanitarian needs of those
affected by the unrest," Noko said.
The Rev. Samuel Kobia, a Kenyan and WCC general secretary,
called Jan. 2 for an immediate independent investigation of the
electoral dispute monitored by international observers. "Now is
the time to put the interests of the nation and the surrounding
region above other concerns," he said.
-- -- --
The full text of Bishop Hanson's statement is at on the ELCA Web
The full text of General Secretary Noko's statement is at on the LWF
Web site.
The full text of General Secretary Kobia's statement is at on the WCC Web site.

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