EIIT: What's That?
The Missouri District is a leader raising up EIIT pastors and deaconesses. The Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT) at Concordia Seminary was launched in 2003 addressing the need for the LCMS to reach out to groups in ethnic immigrant and urban cultures. It provides seminary education leading to the ordination of pastors and consecration of deaconesses while serving in their cultural contexts.
Dr. Ely Prieto says, “the Missouri District today leads our Synod sending students to the EIIT program.” Currently 30 students are in the program. Six vicars and two deaconess interns are from Missouri District congregations! Their languages include Nepalese, Oromo, Mandarin, and American Sign Language.
On November 19, Lewi Jesuwa Jermiya, was ordained and installed as Associate Pastor and Missionary at St. Trinity Lutheran Church of St. Louis. He is the first of several in the District’s EIIT pipeline. He’s also the LCMS’ first Kunama speaking pastor. Lewi is a third generation Lutheran who lived in the Ethiopian Shimelba Refugee Camp for 19 years after being displaced by the Eritrea-Ethiopian Civil War.
In 2017 Lewi, his wife, Arobat, and daughter, Malidaya, resettled in St. Louis. Within three days they became involved in a growing Eritrean/Ethiopian Bible Fellowship at Timothy Lutheran Church. Within a year Lewi was involved in Christian Friends of New Americans (CFNA). Then local pastors worked to prepare him for the EIIT program. While serving as a vicar, Lewi led a Bible Fellowship at CFNA and established an online Kunama group which today has over 80 participants. A second daughter, Malayna, was born and Lewi became a US citizen all while he was a vicar.
Pastor Jermiya’s responsibilities include Saint Trinity’s “Bridge” ministry for children, helping new Americans resettling, and expanding online Kunama Bible ministry. His ordination weekend included an all-day gathering of worship of Kunama from many cities. Sunday morning’s ordination filled St. Trinity with a multiethnic gathering that continues to grow today.
Pictured Below: Pastor Lewi Jermiya and family at ordination.