Top world Lutheran official to become Nigerian bishop

The Lutheran World Federation said on Wednesday the Rev. Musa Panti Filibus, who heads the Lutheran World Federation's Department of Mission and Development in Geneva will leave his post to become a bishop in north eastern Nigeria.

(Photo: Ecumenical News / Peter Kenny)The Rev. Musa Filibus who is to beceome a bishop in Nigeria and his wife the Rev. Ruth Filibus in traditional Zulu attire after being honored at an April 2011 Lutheran World Federation regional church leaders' meeting in South Africa.

"I received this news with both joy and sadness," LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge wrote in a letter to the LWF's main governing body, its council.

Junge said the Mayo Belwa Diocese of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, not far from the border of Cameroon, will be served by "an outstanding leader."

Filibus, who is a Nigerian, became the 70-million strong LWF's mission and development director in Dec. 2010.

"I am convinced that these gifts will be of great blessing for the church into which he is now called to serve as a bishop," Junge said.

The 53-year-old Filibus holds a PhD degree in pastoral theology from the Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota in the U.S. state of Minneapolis.

He will finish his duties at the LWF Geneva office in July.

Filibus joined the LWF in Sept. 2002 as LWF area secretary for Africa. He later served as the LWF deputy general secretary.

For his part Filibus said his decision to accept the post came after lengthy deliberation.

"I feel deeply moved to participate in the LCCN's ministry during challenging times in Nigeria and in the African region."

The LCCN has more than 2 million members in Nigeria. It is organized in eight dioceses, each headed by a bishop, one mission area headed by a pastor, and led by Archbishop Nemuel A. Babba.

Mayo Belwa Diocese in Adamawa State was created in 2011 and includes 300 congregations served by about 60 pastors and other church workers.

Filibus will be installed as the first bishop in October 2013, which coincides with the Nigerian national Lutheran church's 100th anniversary.

Filibus was ordained as pastor of the LCCN in 1994. He first studied theology in Nigeria.

His wife the Rev. Ruth Filibus serves as a pastor in Nigeria and they have three adult children.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous country with 170 million people. Nearly half are Christians and 50 percent Muslims.

An extremist Islamist group called Boko Haram, which preaches that Western education is sinful, has carried out many recent attacks on Christians in the mainly Islamic north of Nigeria heightening sectarian divisions.

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