For according to the latest news from the North American Lutheran Church, the ELCA's Director for African National Ministries, Pastor Genechis Buba -- this is the go to person for the ELCA's outreach among immigrants from Africa -- has jumped ship for the NALC.
The Rev. Dr. Gemechis D. Buba has accepted a call to serve as Missions Director for the North American Lutheran Church, NALC leaders announced Monday, Dec. 13.
Dr. Buba is currently the Director of African National Ministries for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He resigned his ELCA position Dec. 8 to accept the call to serve the NALC. He will begin his service in the NALC on Jan. 1.
Dr. Buba is the first prominent leader from the ELCA national offices in Chicago to leave the church body since the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted to change ELCA teaching and policy to affirm same-sex sexual relationships and to allow pastors to be in those relationships.
Many pastors and congregations have been leaving the ELCA because of what they see as the organization’s movement away from Biblical teaching.
Dr. Buba, a native of Ethiopia, is a widely respected church leader in the United States and around the world. His ties to the dynamic and growing churches of Africa and his vision for the evangelical mission of the Church are especially important to the mission of the NALC.
"Dr. Gemechis Buba is a gifted and inspiring preacher and church leader. The NALC is blessed to have him accept our call to service in the church body," said NALC Bishop Paull Spring of State College, Pa.
"Mission is central to the life and ministry of the North American Lutheran Church, and so it is fitting that the first staff position filled in the NALC is the position of Missions Director," Bishop Spring said. "We all look forward to working with Gemechis to serve the dozens of mission congregations that have joined or are in the process of joining the NALC."
"It is with utmost joy and gratitude that I accept God’s call extended to me through the North American Lutheran Church to serve as the missions director in our new denomination," Dr. Buba said in his letter of acceptance.
"Your call has humbled me since I am going to serve as the first missions director of this new mission-driven church body," he said. "I am also praying for us that the power of the Holy Spirit will move throughout our church renewing and empowering our churches and leaders for mission.
"I am convinced that the hand of God is in this move. I am willing to do whatever it takes to move us forward in mission locally and globally," Dr. Buba said.
"As this is a very daunting task, I solicit your prayers, counsel and wisdom as we venture into the mission field together. There is no doubt that God is going to keep God’s end of the promise and be with us — Immanuel, God is with us! Therefore let us continue to strive to obey the Great Commission of Jesus Christ."
"In this time of reconfiguration of Lutheranism in North America, the interest in new mission starts is at a level not seen in a generation. Helping these new congregations grow and thrive is a priority ministry of the NALC, and the calling of Dr. Buba as Missions Director is an important step in that area," said Ryan Schwarz of the NALC Executive Board.
"We are all excited to work with Dr. Buba in God’s service as we set about renewing the Lutheran Christian witness in North America," Schwarz said. "Our members will be filled with joy to hear of his decision."
Dr. Buba, 35, received his Bachelor of Theology with high distinction from Mekane Yesus Theological Seminary in Ethiopia. He also served as a professor at the seminary for two years.
After working on Masters of Theology in Church History at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology he moved to the United States for further studies.
He received a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Christian Education from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta in 2003.
In 2006, Dr. Buba earned a doctorate from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., specializing in Missional Leadership.
Ordained in 2001, he has served as a seminary professor, mission developer, senior pastor, vice president of the Southeastern Black Lutheran Pastors’ Conference, and an assistant to the bishop of Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod.
He was pastor of St. Stephen Evangelical Lutheran Church and the African/Oromo Lutheran Church in Atlanta.
Dr. Buba served the worldwide Union of Oromo Evangelical Churches for three terms as president.
"In his visionary leadership and unparalleled commitment of service, the Oromo church around the world recorded a remarkable growth over the past six years and was exposed to national and international stages," the organization noted upon the completion of his terms as president in 2010.
In addition to academic study and ordained ministry, Dr. Buba participated in multiple international ministries through revivals, leadership development conventions, and evangelical mission events.
Dr. Buba is married to Nassisse Baro Tumsa. They have an infant son named Labsi. They are moving to Columbus, Ohio, home of the NALC’s international offices.
The North American Lutheran Church has been experiencing rapid growth since it was constituted on Aug. 27 in Columbus, Ohio. More than 90 congregations have voted to join the NALC during its first four months of existence. Many more congregations are expected to vote to join the church body in the coming weeks and months.
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