Rev. Matthias Tepper, a German Lutheran pastor, celebrated the inauguration of a new Malagasy-speaking congregation, The Malagasy Lutheran Church in Brussels, Belgium on August 28th. The Malagasy people come from Madagascar, an island off the southeastern coast of Africa, Africa. The church members come from the Lutheran Church of Madagascar.
Over 120 people gathered to celebrate and welcome the new congregation, including Dr. Habberstad Rakotondrazaka, who led the liturgical service and is the president of the European Malagasy Synod of the Lutheran Church of Madagascar. Rev. Brent Smith, regional director of Eurasia for the LCMS and Gijsbertus van Hattem, president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium (ELKB) also attended and gave welcome speeches.
Tepper identified this outreach and church plant as closely tied to his other mission work. He sees the opening of the Malagasy Lutheran Church in Brussels as another way to bring Lutherans together in worship, and a way for Lutherans to spread the Gospel to those who don’t know Jesus. While the English-speaking congregation serves a large international population, Tepper hopes the French-speaking Malagasy congregation will be able to outreach to the local community as well.
“For the Malagasy church, the advantage is that they speak French. Most of the Brussels population speaks French so that might be the spark we need for growth. We’ll be more stable with a French-speaking congregation. We hope that it grows to be a large ministry and good outreach to the people and community,” Tepper said.
While Dr. Rakotondrazaka led this inauguration service, Pastor Tepper regularly leads the services in French in addition to his pastoral role at the English-speaking All Lutheran Church of Brussels (ALCB). The event was cohosted by the ALCB and the Lutheran Church of Madagascar.
Tepper has been serving in his current ministry since 2007 and works with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium and is sent in partnership with LCMS World Mission (as an Alliance missionary) and the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (SELK).