By Katie Schuermann
ST. LOUIS (July 22, 2013) — The Rev. Dr. Tilahun Mendedo, a native of Ethiopia and president of Concordia College, Selma, Ala., stood at the pulpit during Monday morning’s LCMS convention prayer service and warned LCMS Pres. Matthew C. Harrison, “You made a mistake by assigning an African for an 8-minute sermon.”
The text for Mendedo’s sermon was the account of the Ethiopian eunuch’s baptism as found in Acts Chapter 8.
“Yes,” Mendedo confirmed, “I am an Ethiopian by birth, but I am not a eunuch. I have my wife and children in the back.”
Mendedo explained the conversion of the eunuch to the delegates: “Remember, this gentleman didn’t lack religiosity and works-righteousness. He was working on that. He traveled from Ethiopia all the way to Jerusalem. Natural eyes cannot understand the Word of God. We need the Master of the Harvest, God the Holy Spirit, to enlighten our hearts and our minds that His Word comes to us through the Word and Sacraments, that we be lifted up and connect to those who are lost.”
Harrison thanked Mendedo after the service for preaching “not only the best sermon I have ever heard on that text,” but also “for providing the most memorable sermon introduction I have ever heard.”
Harrison’s comments were met with laughter and applause by the assembly.
Mendedo also is a board member of African Radio Ministry and coordinator of the Lutheran translation works in Ethiopia. Under his leadership, confessional books by Lutheran church fathers such as C.F.W. Walther and Hermann Sasse have been translated into Ethiopian vernacular languages.
The 65th Regular Convention of the LCMS is meeting July 20-25 at the America’s Center Convention Complex under the theme “Baptized for This Moment.” Among convention participants are 1,195 clergy and lay voting delegates.