HOW IT CAME TO BE: In the early 1990′s, the ELCA Global Mission unit organized a Companion Synod program that linked each of the 65 synods with a church in another country. Upstate NY Synod was asked to become companions with the ELCZ (often also depicted as the ELCZed). Since that time, we have sent two cargo containers of medical supplies for the four Lutheran hospitals and a large supply of school books to one of the four Lutheran schools. A Zimbabwe National Choir traveled here to share their music and raised over $100,000 for the care of Zimbabwe Aids orphans.
THEN AND NOW: The ELCZ began in the early 1900′s when Swedish missionaries from South Africa came to what was then Rhodesia and established several mission churches. Originally, preachers brought the word of God to the people, but today the role of missionaries has changed to one of leadership development and training.
Bishops Shiri, Ambrose Moyo, L. Dube, and Shava have each visited our synod in the past and we have sent visitors from our synod to them.
In summer of 2010, Pr. Gail Wolling and Nancy Bader of Luther Memorial were a part of a group of 14 people from our synod who made the journey to Zimbabwe to strengthen relationships and participate in a national church revival. Luther Memorial will be establishing a relationship with Pr. E. Hove of Supwi Parish in southern Zimbabwe. On June 13, 2010 Luther Memorial spent the day “On the Road with Jesus”, participating in active mission work throughout our community. One of the mission groups prepared gifts from Luther Memorial to be given to the people of the ELCZ.
In 2003, Bishop Marie Jerge, Pr. Jim Jerge, Pr. Ed Sproul, Bess Sproul and Nancy Bader were fortunate to attend the Centennial Celebration of the ELCZ. Over 8,000 people from all over the country came because they wanted to be part of such a great event. While there, they learned what Hospitality (with a capital H) really is! At the huge worship celebration of the centennial, there was a small sheet cake (to serve 8,000). It was cut by the bishops into small pieces and given to the U.S. and Swedish guests first. As soon as they had been served, the people cheered, “Hooray, the guests have been fed – now we can begin!”
Throughout the year, we pray for the people of the ELCZ and their leader, Bishop Dube. During the political crisis in 2008-2009, the ELCA provided over a million dollars to buy seed, fertilizer and medical supplies to sustain the people and keep the hospitals running. Click HERE to see a video of thanksgiving (Zimbabwe: Seeds of Hope) for the harvest they received from the seed that were planted.