Sunday, December 17, 2017

Oromo Evangelical Church in Columbus, Ohio

We enjoyed having guests today at UALC from Oromo Church (east side of Columbus) the fastest growing North American Lutheran Church (NALC) congregation. The congregation is in negotiation to purchase a church building so our church is helping from the mission fund.  It serves the Ethiopian refugee community, which has about 6,000 in Columbus, about half of which are Muslim. Their pastor was a bishop in his homeland with oversight of 600,000. I think I heard that Ethiopia has the largest Lutheran Church in the world. On fire for Jesus.

50 years ago I wondered why Christians didn't just worship together--i.e., in the style I knew--take in the immigrants--just one big family. But now that I know more history I recognize that most immigrants in the U.S. stayed together for worship as they learned the language, food and culture. The Methodists in Ohio used to have German speaking churches (Lakeside had special meetings in German), as did the Lutherans, and the Finns, Swedes and Norwegians had their Lutheran churches. In the 20th c. in Cleveland already established 19th c. Hungarian speaking congregations--Jewish, Roman Catholic, Reformed and Lutheran responded to the refugee crisis of 1956 as the Hungarians fled their communist oppressors, and many still have services in Hungarian. There are several Chinese and Korean congregations in Columbus, some rent sanctuaries in other churches, some are house churches, some are stand-alone and have services in both Mandarin and Cantonese. By maintaining their language and culture, they can be very effective missionaries in Asia where there are other diaspora Chinese communities. By the second or third generation, the non-English services sometimes are dropped, there are mergers, and new polities develop. But this is what I call real diversity, not the artificial, victim type; fitting in, yet staying together for the glory of God.

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