On Wed. Oct. 18, 2017, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Guyana joined the worldwide Lutheran community in celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
The service took place in New Amsterdam at Ebenezer Lutheran Church the historic first church of the ELCG, which celebrates its own 274th anniversary. The ELCG is the second oldest Lutheran Church in South America after Suriname.
Guest preacher for the Anniversary service was the Rev. Ken Kross from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Suriname. Rev. Kross was joined by his wife, Joan and their daughter, Krystal. Liturgist for the service was Michael Davy Ram, treasurer for the ELCG. Persons from every congregation in the country joined in the new Caribbean Folk Service.
The festivities continued with the sharing of a light meal. Samuel Goolsarran, the long-time ELCG secretary, was the first recipient of ELCG’s inaugural Martin Luther Award of Excellence. Mr Goolsarran recently returned from planting a commemorative tree in the Lutherstadt, Wittenberg.
The relationship between the ELCG and Eastern Synod Lutherans had its beginnings in the 1960s, when students from British Guiana completed their theological training at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. Since then, several graduates, including the Revs. Joseph Drepaul and Joseph Habibullah, became pastors of the Eastern Synod. Other students took on leadership positions both in the ELCG and at the United Theological Seminary of the West Indies ( Rev. Geoff Tannassee). Currently, we have former ELCG pastors, Rev. Roy Thakurdyal and Rev. Moses Persaud, serving Eastern Synod congregations.
Eastern Synod pastors who have served in the ELCG include Rev. Barry and Alice Lang, Rev. Jack and Val Frederick, and most recently, Rev. Vivian and Eric Roberts. Several of our Eastern Synod churches continue to have a strong Guyanese character. The Eastern Synod and the ELCG have enjoyed a Sister partner church relationship since 1997. This relationship was fostered by both our own Bishop, Michael Pryse and the ELCG president at the tim, Rev. Roy Thakurdyal. This relationship is being renewed by our Synodical Council and the ELCG this year.
Since 2001, Rev. John O’Connor has made annual trips to Guyana for periods of two to three months to teach nursing students at the St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital in Georgetown. A current initiative, in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Health and the Georgetown Public Hospital, is to grow a local psychiatry training program. In support of this ministry initiative, Rev. Dr. Peter Kuhnert has led five groups of medical and nursing volunteers to Guyana, since 2013.
For over 60 years, our two Lutheran churches have prayed for, accompanied, learned and witnessed together to the grace of God active in our lands. In this year of renewal and revisioning, I encourage your congregations to actively pray for our partnership with the ELCG. And I encourage you to envision how God is calling us to be Lutheran together over the next 500 years of the Reformation- witnessing to the grace of God active in our lives, our families, our communities, and our countries. When inspired, please contact the synod office with your words and letters of support for this partnership.
Rev. Dr. Peter Kuhnert