Imagine sitting down in church to sing the next hymn – out of a Pentecostal hymnal, or out of a Lutheran hymnal that has no music, just words. That’s what the members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya (ELCK) have been doing. That’s about to change.
The ELCK will soon have a new Lutheran hymnal, in their native language of Swahili. The group working on this project, the ELCK Hymnal Commission, officially began in 2009 with the assistance of Deaconess Sandra Rhein and three Concordia Theological Seminary faculty members with experience in producing a hymnal. The ELCK has around 100,000 members, but only 150 pastors, so the majority of these pastors serve multiple congregations. The lack of a proper hymnal, combined with the lack of a pastor on many Sundays, makes for a problematic situation. Deaconess Rhein writes:
Bringing hymnody to the precious body of Christ, specifically to the suffering church of Kenya, would be a clear and effective form of human care and diakonia. Worry and despair, as the cause of many bodily afflictions related to depression and stress, can be overcome by the voice of the Gospel in hymnody. Consequently, providing hymnody, as part of a comprehensive solution and in conjunction with other forms of care, can be a fundamental way to care for the bodily needs of our brothers and sisters.
The new hymnal, called Ibada Takatifu (Divine Service), is going to print in January of next year, with a first printing of 20,000 copies. They could certainly use our help in funding these hymnals. At a cost of $100 for 34 hymnals, that equates to about $3 per hymnal. What a unique opportunity for us to help spread the Gospel in a wonderful way, that will have an impact for decades to come. If you’d like to help, you can contribute online here, or mail a check to:
Concordia Theological Seminary
6600 N Clinton
Fort Wayne IN 46825
In the memo line of the check, write “Kenyan Hymnal Project.”
More information can be found on the Kenyan Hymnal Project blog.