|To All-Africa Lutheran Conference
|Wednesday, October 13, 1965
|We welcome to Our Capital the delegates of the All-African Lutheran Churches and also those members of the same Church who have come from the United States of America, Europe and Asia. It is Our duty to be among you at this moment and to open your conference.
It is gratifying to recall that after nearly 1500 years of division in the Christian Church, venerable Heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches assembled together in this very Hall in January of last year for deliberations on Christian Unity, the Spread of the Teachings of the Gospel, and World Peace.
World Church Leaders have also been frequently assembling in other countries to discuss the responsibilities of the Church of Christ and how to execute them efficiently in order to promote closer relations and cooperation among themselves. It has given a sense of satisfaction to see that Christians and their leaders, realizing the need for close relations and aware of their great spiritual responsibilities have in our time come closer in the promotion of their noble cause.
Peace, universally heralded by the Angels at the Birth of Our Saviour, has become even more necessary to mankind than ever before. The alternatives confronting the Governments of today are no longer peace or war, but peace or the annihilation and complete doom of mankind. Therefore, it has now become the noble responsibility of Christians and peoples of other faith and their leaders throughout the world to pray and to work hard for the preservation of world peace.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the spread of the teachings of the Gospel in Africa by various Christian missionaries in the past centuries has served as a guiding factor and instrument for the freedom and independence now enjoyed by many Africans throughout this continent. As St. Paul said “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.” Many of the present day distinguished leaders of the newly independent African States are men who received their education in church schools and who, inspired by the teachings of the Gospel on human freedom, succeeded in liberating their people after a patient and great struggle. When We look back at this unchallengeable fact, We can clearly see that all their tireless efforts and sacrifices in this glorious struggle were not in vain.
Who could tell that there is so much difference between different religious books and the teachings of Christ as manifested in the works of the Disciples Although the Ethiopian people are among the first to receive Christianity and have, with great sacrifices, protected and sustained their faith and human rights, including their independence up to the present day, it is an established fact that in the past hundred years foreign evangelist missionaries have greatly assisted many thousands of Ethiopians. Moreover, it is also a fact that they have brought up and educated many Ethiopians among whom We are happy to see, many are placed in responsible posts and are serving their country with diligence and devotion. Along with the missionaries’ assistance towards the spread of modern education and the betterment of the health of the people, their contributions towards the building of hospitals and the running of clinics is not a matter to be overlooked. Besides teaching the Gospel, they have also given all types of disinterested aid throughout the world. In the social field, in morality, education, food and clothing, these missionaries have stretched their helping hand to Africans, Asians and to other peoples of the world.
Motivated by the teaching of Christ and by the words of St. Mark “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature,” We are happy to see that the Lutheran World Federation has succeeded in building and establishing a radio station in the capital of Ethiopia – the ancient island of Christianity – to spread the teachings of the Gospel to the peoples of Africa and to those of other countries. We thank the Almighty for the great services that the station has been rendering to Ethiopians and other Africans in particular. It is Our hope and wish that it will continue to be the light of the Gospel to many people for many years to come. In its great task, Our support and that of Our government has never been and will never be withheld.
We do not believe that the religious and social problems that you members of this conference are going to discuss are less significant that the political and economic problems confronting the governments of Africa. However, since the Holy Scriptures have taught us that everything can be accomplished by those who have faith, We hope that your few days of deliberations here in Addis Ababa on matters of spiritual and social problems will be successful through the guidance and the power of Our Saviour. We wish you a pleasant time with your Ethiopian brothers and sisters during your stay among them. May God Almighty bless your deliberations.
|Haile Selassie I