Greetings in Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. My name is Vicar Christopher Maronde, and I am a seminary student at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. For the next year, I will be serving as a vicar in three churches in upstate New York, including Redeemer Lutheran Church in Canastota. My year in upstate New York is a time of hands on preparation for becoming a pastor in the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod. While serving my vicarage, I will be submitting a monthly article relating to the Gospel of Jesus Christ for publication in the Eagle Newspapers of Northern Madison County.
In February and March of this year I was exposed firsthand to the hope which springs from the sharing of the Gospel as I spent three weeks in South Africa on a study abroad trip. During the weekdays, we stayed at a Lutheran seminary in Pretoria. On the weekends, we left the city behind and traveled the countryside, seeing the church and its people. South Africa is a very fascinating and unique country, but also a troubled one. Apartheid (a program of racism and forced removal of native Africans that lasted from 1948-1994) has left deep scars, and numerous issues that affect the entire nation along with the Lutheran Church. Not only this, but the issues of poverty, AIDS, and the growing influence of Islam are difficult issues facing the Church not only in South Africa, but all throughout the African continent. Preaching the Good News of Christ in Africa is challenging even in the best of times.
This is precisely why the seminary in Pretoria, Lutheran Theological Seminary- Tshwane, is so important. At this seminary there are students from all over the continent, trained in Lutheran theology, and then sent back out into their countries to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to baptize. The sacrifices these men make to answer the Lord’s call to become a pastor are simply amazing. One student, a South African of Zulu descent, had to leave his wife and children behind, because he could not afford to bring them with him, and he cannot afford to visit them. Another student from Uganda runs the family farm with a cell phone. All of the students live on next to nothing, but their faith remains strong. These men have given up everything to serve Jesus, and they pray for that day when they will rejoin their family and begin to preach God’s Word to their people. In Pretoria, South Africa, the cause of the Gospel throughout a hurting continent is being served.
This same Gospel is proclaimed at Redeemer Lutheran Church every Sunday at 4 pm (we meet at Trinity Episcopal Church in Canastota). We also have several bible studies- before church at 3 pm, at Whitman Road above Clockville on the 2nd and 4th Mondays at 2:00 pm, and at North Bay on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays at 6:30 pm.