Did you know…

that Bethesda, as part of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod of the ELCA, has a sister church? Have you ever heard of a companion synod? Each of the 65 synods in the ELCA has at least one international church companion. Ours is the Malagasy Lutheran Church (Fiangonana Loterana Malagasy) in the Tulear Synod in Madagscar. Through these relationships, ELCA synods and companion churches nurture and strengthen one another, offering support through prayer, communication, sharing of resources and exchanging visitors.

The Malagasy Lutheran Church (FLM) is led by a president and a general secretary and other officials that are elected by a general assembly every four years. It is one of the largest Lutheran churches in the world, with almost 4 million members. Our faraway sister church (nearly 9000 miles) has a deep commitment to providing a thorough education and training for its leadership. It offers an extensive health care program and many programs for women and youth. It also operates primary and secondary schools and schools and ministries for those who are blind or hearing impaired.

Members of at least one congregation have been known to stand outside for the worship service because there was no room left inside. A pastor told the story of riding to town on top of a crowded truck to buy wine for communion. FLM is not a wealthy church by most standards, but it is very rich in faith and love for doing God’s work. Two continents, two countries, two synods, two cultures, one family in Jesus.

For some interesting reading about Madagasar and the Malagasy Lutheran Church, check out this article on the ELCA website:

An article about companion synod relationships can be found here: