GLORY BE TO GOD
The Rev. Gemechis D. Buba
UNITED OROMO EVANGELICAL CHURCHES INC.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Justice and Peace commission officially established
- Oromo Christian handbook officially launched
- The birth of Oromo Theological Studies Association (OTSA)
The weekend of February 18-20, 2006, Oromo church leaders, theologians, civic and community leaders, human right activists and mission partners assembled to uphold and implement some decision of the UOEC council and board.
During this weekend our work was upheld with the prayers and generosity of our congregations and partner churches around the world. As we decided to call this summit trusting in the power of God, we had objectives set before us. Thos objectives were clearly displayed and dispatched to all member churches and partners.
Today as we look back those objectives came true entailing additional victories. More than all the passion ignited and displayed in the hearts and minds of those individuals appointed to carry out the task were clear, evident and encouraging. We were so blessed to have a superb group of people who had the will, the capacity and the passion to do the job at hand.
Without a doubt we have been victorious in establishing, launching and commencing a long and laborious yet fulfilling and meaningful journey. This is a sign of God’s blessing showering over the hard work and good intentions displayed by all involved in the process. Nonetheless in addition to the divine presence and blessing our united commitment, accountability and determination will determine the final outcome the effort. Therefore I call upon all of our churches to uphold these newly instituted mission and ministry offices via consistent support, appreciation, encouragement and prayer.
- Justice and Peace commission officially established
Establishing and doing the work of Justice and peace commission was one of the main goals of the United Oromo Evangelical Churches. As a church which is called out of and sent to the Oromo people and to the world we have a very clear responsibility to reach out and address issues of justice and peace amongst the Oromo people. In order to systematically, consistently and persistently deal with this critical mission the council of the United Oromo Evangelical churches on it’s annual meeting held in Columbus OH August 2005 decided to established peace and justice commission.
Justice and Peace commission is a ministry office created to carry out the prophetic mission and ministry of our church. Based on this historical, moral and mission motivation the work of preparing the ground work was being done for the last six months since the Columbus resolution. During this six months:
- Communication was going between our office and our congregations repeatedly.
- Congregations were encouraged to send delegates to the training to be held in a central location.
- Faith based peace and justice advocacy agencies working directly with the US government, UN nations, Human right organizations, Churches and African governments were sought.
- Leading document of the summit was composed and dispatched to all member churches and partner churches.
- Human rights activists, civic and community leaders were invited as participants, observers and witnesses.
Once the date was fixed to February 18, 2006 the logistics were worked out to accommodate the session and the flow of the day. With the hard work of our office coordinator Obbo Challa Gabissa Baro, the Oromo church in Washington DC and the graciousness of the Grace Lutheran Church in hosting us, we had a great summit!
On this conference delegates came from Minneapolis MN, Columbus OH, Los Angeles California, Metro Washington DC area, Atlanta Ga, Philadelphia PN, and Toronto Canada.
This summit was led by five major presenters:
- The Rev. Gemechis D. Buba, The biblical and theological foundations, parameters and pointers of peace and justice commission.
- Mr. Andrew Genszler, Expert consultant from the Lutheran office for governmental affairs, on domestic issues of education, poverty and health care.
- Mrs. Annie Lynsen, Director for Advocacy Communications, Grassroots and Network Development
- Ms. Kim Stietz, Expert consultant on African issues such as Darfur, Lutheran office for Governmental affairs.
- Dr. Gemechu Olana, The current state of human right, peace and justice in East Africa in general and Oromia in particular.
After hearing solid theoretical, philosophical, theological and ideological presentations the delegates received very technical and practical trainings to be equipped and skilled for the task at hand. The three consultants from our partner institution Lutheran Office for governmental office took about three hours of the day to deliver an excellent presentation and gave practical organizational and advocacy skills to prepare our commission for the work.
In the afternoon the summit was geared towards having an Oromo specific discussion leading up to the nomination of the peace and justice commission commissioners.
As the summit came to conclusion the delegates, participants and observers expressed their deep gratitude for the initiative and expressed their deep support for the cause. After having a moment of reflection in the form of question and answer the summit nominated and installed the following individuals as commissioners of peace and justice commission of the UOEC Inc.
- Dr. Gemechu Olana, Chairman
- Mr. Thomas Debela, Commission Secretary
- Ms. Ribka Assefa Ayana, Public relation officer
- Mr. Robera Battal, Expert Consultant
- Mr. Fekadu Ebba, Commission treasurer
After unanimously ratifying the nomination, election and appointment of these congregational delegates the summit was adjourned with a corporate prayer and benediction. Last but most, I call upon all to consistently lift up this great group of commissioners in your prayer.
The work on Oromo Christian handbook officially launched
Lack of Oromo Christian education material was repeatedly expressed by most of our churches in Diaspora especially the newly emerging congregations without trained and ordained leaders. Furthermore lack of Christian education resources are evidently clear in our churches where we have very few to none printed material to teach from or to refer to in Afan Oromo. The only resource people can tap into when it comes to feeding their spiritual life is the Oromo Bible.
Taking this into serious consideration some ground work was being done. Few months back tentative visionary outline and vision proposal was dispatched to leaders of Oromo churches worldwide. There was a great support for the vision with constructive comments given to help with the technical and timing aspect of the task.
The vision was made alive as Oromo theologians and pastors came together through a teleconference in the month of December 2005. In the history of the Oromo church this was the first meeting held by Oromo theologians and scholars to discuss and reflect on the production of Oromo Christian manual/handbook. During the teleconference all the participants decided to have a day long face to face meeting over the structure, composition and formatting of the manual outline by maintaining conventional standard of systematic theology.
As a result of the December teleconference February 20, 2006 was picked by consensus. On this day six Oromo theologians came together for a very focused work of structuring the work in line with the scholarly standards of Systematic theology. Since the work at hand was the first of its kind in the history of Oromo Christian community it was done with an extra caution and devotion to the lead of the Spirit of God.
After a long laborious day of working on the outline there was a moment for division of labor in order to continue the work. As a result of this work the following people were nominated with specific task of producing the manual:
- Editor in Chief
- The Rev. Gemechis D. Buba
- Editorial team
- Mr. Amsalu Taddesse
- Mr. Thomas Debela
- Dr. Gemechu Olana
- Dr. Teka Obsa
- Literary editorial team
- Rev. Tasgara Hirpo
- Rev. Desalegn Mengesha
- Project coordinator
- Technical support team leader
At the end the Oromo Christian handbook editorial taskforce successfully concluded the work with the following recommendations for follow up:
- Writing format
The target of the work will be to produce a manual; the structural format of the work will consist:
- Biblical Background, Biblical OT and NT,
- Church history, historical facts
- Practical Implication or application
- Choice of Oromo Theological terms
As writers write it is obvious that they will face challenges in the area of technical theological and philosophical terms. Taking that into consideration the following literary guideline is recommended:
- Use original and common words
- When faced with a literary challenge bring it to a common a platform for reflection and comment
- Try to capture and explain a concept in few words
- Try to creatively coin a technical/theological when absolutely necessary then bring it to a common platform for comment and later for conventional adoption
- Inherit the term from the original language
- Oromo literary critics
Some names are mentioned as possible qubee consultants and critical readers. These individuals will be requested to join the editorial team as literary critics to maintain the standards of the language composition.
- Follow-up suggestions
The birth of Oromo Theological Studies Association (OTSA)
- June 2, 2006, all writers will submit the first draft of their work to the editorial team
- Mr. Challa will send reminders periodically and repeatedly keep the work at the forefront the writers mind and desk.
- June 30, 2006, the editorial team will return the document to the authors after a substantial review with comments on the formatting, content and limited comment on the literary style and shape of the document.
- The Second draft will be sent back to the editors by October 27, 2006.
- At this juncture the editorial team will pull in literary editors for the linguistic aspect of the editorial work.
- The next step will be designed by the team of editors to reconvene the handbook task force.
The vision behind the birth of Oromo Theological Studies Association (OTSA) is born out of the following background encounters, experiences and contextual realities:
- Creating forum, platform and setting for free theological reflections by Oromo theologians and scholars from an Oromo point of view
- Developing and producing an Oromo theological perspectives and paradigms to enrich our Christian heritage and contribute a newer outlook to the global theological dialogue
- Produce substantial theological material in the form of journals, booklets, editorials and books
- Encourage Oromo theologians work in unison to search a common solution to the social, cultural, political, economic and religious predicaments of the Oromo people
- Enrich an Oromo Christian faith and worship experience with a systematic and substantial theological reflections
- Encourage and recruit bright Oromo thinkers to consider theological training and pastoral vocation as a viable option and call in their life
- Create and strengthen a net work of Oromo theologians worldwide for mutual encouragement and support
- Create and strengthen a net work of Oromo theologians with mission societies, theologians of diverse national and denominational background, theological institutions of diverse background and encourage inter denominational and inter religious dialogue for mutual learning and understanding.
Based on these and many other background thoughts, the birth of Oromo Theological Study association (OTSA) is being witnessed. The very idea of OTSA and its’ mode of operations will be presented on the discussion forum of UOEC ministerium, Minneapolis MN March 17-18 2006. After sufficient time for comment and discussion the vision to create OTSA will be recommended to the board and council of UOEC for proper ratification.
On February 20, 2006 on the initial meeting of OTSA there was a verbal agreement design OTSA as an independent/ autonomous academic entity and as an affiliate entity to the UOEC. This it to facilitate safe and free forum for free academic thinking and _expression. Mr. Amsalu Taddesse is unanimously elected to serve as the first President of the association until the UOEC council meeting in July 2006 in Seattle.
Mr. Amsalu will be working on the ground work of researching and defining the functional and organizational nature of the association. His findings will be presented on the ministerium meeting in July 2006 in Seattle Washington prior to presentation to the council. Thus far the idea of organizing Oromo Theological Study Association is receiving an overwhelming support from Oromo theologians, churches and partner churches.
Professor Oyvind Eide a prominent Norwegian scholar on Religion and its socio-political impacts in Ethiopia underscored the need for a strong theological forum where Oromo theology gets developed. During his visit to Washington DC in 2005 he stressed the uniqueness of Oromo _expression of faith in the form of worship, prayer and commitment to the faith. In order to expound on this reality and make it contextually applicable one has to start a serious theological inquiry and research. This task will help sustain the phenomena, deepen the experience and share it with the global Christian family.
The Rev. Gemechis D. Buba
President, UOEC Inc.