Rev. Dr. Dinku Bato has accepted the call to the Lutheran Heritage Foundation (LHF) to serve as coordinator of LHF’s African translation projects. Rev. Bato’s installation service will take place at Jehovah Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minn. on Sunday, March 25 at the end of their 11:30 a.m. Ethiopian-outreach service.
“LHF is currently at work translating and publishing Lutheran materials in more than 25 countries in Africa,” said LHF’s executive director Rev. Matthew Heise. “As LHF’s work has expanded, it’s become clear that we need an individual to oversee and coordinate LHF’s many translation projects throughout the continent, and Rev. Bato has the unique background and abilities to carry out this task.”
Rev. Bato was born in Ethiopia and raised in Mekane Yesus, a Lutheran church body in Ethiopia with over 8 million members, where he was a campus pastor. He and his family relocated to the United States about 6 years ago to continue his theological studies, and Rev. Bato colloquized into the LCMS in June 2017.
“In 2013, my church body – Mekane Yesus – parted ways with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) over the issue of homosexuality,” explained Rev. Bato. “I then had a choice to join ELCA congregations, probably even as a pastor, but I didn’t follow those opportunities. Instead, it was important to me to find a church that is Biblically sound and Christ-centered. This is how I found the Missouri Synod.”
Rev. Bato’s commitment to the traditional Lutheran understanding of Scripture dovetails perfectly with the LHF mission of translating and publishing books like Luther’s Small Catechism and the Book of Concord into the languages of the world.
“Before I came to the United States in my work with campus ministries, I worked with LHF people in Ethiopia to distribute LHF materials to the students. When I was there, the catechism wasn’t in large supply,” Rev. Bato recalled. “But the catechism is one of the best things for teaching the faith, a very good theological book that’s readable and understandable on a lay level.”
Another important role Rev. Bato will fill at LHF is helping to make connections with the 2 million African immigrants in the United States and finding new ways to share LHF books with them.
“We have many materials for immigrant ministry, but in my experience, I don’t see them on congregations’ desks or in Ethiopian homes,” he said. “There is a missing link in getting these good books to the people. What can we do about it? This is my interest, and I’ve been bold to ask that if there is any opportunity of bridging this gap, maybe I can help.”
“The addition of Rev. Bato to the LHF staff will greatly strengthen LHF’s ability to more broadly distribute confessional Lutheran literature throughout the African continent,” said Rev. Heise. “We are confident that the Holy Spirit will work powerfully through Rev. Bato and LHF’s books to call many more people – both in Africa and here in the United States – to faith in Christ Jesus.”
The public is invited to attend Rev. Bato’s installation service at Jehovah Lutheran Church, 1566 Thomas Ave., St. Paul, MN 55104. LCMS clergy are invited to vest (red stole) and participate in the rite of installation. A light dinner featuring Ethiopian dishes will follow the service.
Rev. Bato is a 1997 graduate of Mekane Yesus Seminary in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He received his master’s degree in anthropology from Addis Ababa University in 2003 and his doctorate in Congregational Mission and Leadership from Luther Seminary in Minnesota in 2015. He is married to Mergitu Sarka; they and their three children reside near St. Paul, Minn.
The Lutheran Heritage Foundation is a recognized service organization of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. For over 25 years, LHF’s mission has been to translate, publish, distribute and introduce Lutheran materials that are Bible-based, Christ-centered and Reformation-driven. LHF has published books like Luther’s Small Catechism, A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories and the Book of Concord into more than 100 languages.