October 26, 2014
Polokwane, Limpopo Province, South Africa
ELCSA churchwide celebration of the Luther Decade on Reformation Sunday

Over 2000 women, men, youth and children together with the pastors and bishops of the seven dioceses of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa gathered to celebrate the Luther Decade on Reformation Sunday 2014 in Polokwane, Limpopo Province under the banner “Towards 500 years of Lutheran Witnessing 1517 – 2017.”

A day-long seminar on the Luther Decade theme for 2014 “Reformation and Politics” was held on the previous day at the Pietersburg Lodge.  Presentations on the topic were given by Bishop emeritus Dr. Musa Biyela (LTI), Rev. Ruth Xaba (ELCSA SED) and Dean NM Myaka (ELCSA SED).  Responses to the papers were offered by Rev. M. Shabele (Principal of the Lutheran Theological Institute LTI), Dr. Mathole Motshekga (Former Premier of Gauteng Province and current ANC member of parliament) and Rev. Dr. Philip Knutson (ELCA Global Mission).

The Reformation Sunday Luther Decade launch rally began with the arrival of ELCSA Presiding bishop NP Phaswana and Mmabishop Phaswana at the sports center in Seshego in a motor cavalcade.  Bishops and clergy entered the venue in a procession accompanied by singing led by a brass band.

The sermon was delivered by the presiding bishop based on the Gospel reading John 8:31-36 “The truth shall set you free.” The bishop began by greeting the congregation in more than 11 languages. Reflecting on numerous challenges in Christian and Lutheran history he asked what it means to be Christian, Lutheran and ecumenical in Africa today in the face of fear, selfishness, poverty and oppression? What stories do we tell our children and neighbors?  How do we witness?  Do we tell them that salvation, people and creation are not for sale, and that the greatest miracle of all is God’s gift of grace through Christ which frees us to love and serve others with God’s gifts?

A member of the youth Ms. Nobuhle Nxumalo (ELCSA SED) recited a poem she had written entitled: “I am a Lutheran.” In an address to launch the Luther Decade in ELCSA Bishop emeritus Dr. Biyela reflected on the Reformation themes of Grace alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone and exhorted the congregation to show the overflowing love of God in service to their neighbors when they return to their homes.

After the offering and service of Holy Communion greetings were delivered by ELCSA partners.  The rally ended with a meal.

Submitted by: 
Philip J. Knutson Rev. Dr.
ELCA Global Mission
Regional Representative – Southern Africa
Johannesburg