The current Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) has over 2.5 million members and is one of the largest Lutheran churches in the world. The Lutheran St. Paul Area Synod began a relationship with ELCT in 1997 with a primary focus on educating pastors for the rapidly growing Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania.
A companion congregation program began in 2000 to create direct relationships between Lutheran congregations in the Iringa area of Tanzania and Lutheran congregations in the St. Paul area.
In 2003 Salem became a companion to the Magome Lutheran parish in a remote part of Tanzania near the town of Iringa. Our initial support was an annual financial gift to Magome. Every two years, since 2006, Salem has sent a group to Magome, TZ, to build relationships, worship and sing together, eat together, and engage in projects to improve the lives of the congregation.. We have agreed to pray for one another regularly and to engage in regular communication through email, videos, letters, and photographs.
With the financial support of Salem, a church facility at Magome was constructed and smaller churches at two preaching points; Ikaloma and “Salem” were built. Salem provided the funds for the pastor to get a motorcycle to travel the hills and mountains to reach the two preaching points.
During our mission trips to Magome we have added solar lights (there is no electricity in Magome) to the church, Sunday School/administration building, and the pastor’s home.
Salem provides many scholarships for Magome students to attend nursing school and secondary school because only elementary school is provided by the government. This year about 20 Magome students got a scholarship from Salem.
The present pastor at Magome is Pastor Agripa Magaya; a young pastor with tremendous energy.
Our next mission trip to Magome will in July of 2018. Any Salem member is encouraged to come on the trip.
Our longest relationship is with San Lucas Toliman, a mission in the highlands of Guatemala. Salem has been visiting San Lucas for over 17 years, learning about the projects the mission supports, volunteering, and becoming lifelong friends with several Guatemalan families.
Members of Salem also sponsor 13 students from San Lucas and surrounding communities so that they can get a secondary education.
Volunteering projects include coffee picking, road clearing, seedling planting, and stove building. Stove building has been a vital project. The older Guatemalan stoves often create health problems like asthma and are safety hazards. The new stoves are cheap to make, built from local supplies, and employ locals to lead the volunteer work crews.
Augustinian Lutheran Church of Guatemala
Salem and the ELCA also have a relationship with ILAG: the Augustinian Lutheran Church of Guatemala. ILAG is based out of Guatemala City and supports Lutheran churches throughout the large city and outlying communities. Along with building churches, ILAG focuses on health training, education, and leadership development for members of the communities they serve.
Salem travels to Guatemala every two years, usually in conjunction with other churches in the area. New travelers are always welcome!