The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod began work in Togo in 1980. Currently, leadership training is being conducted among the Moba, Gurma and Gangam people of Togo through the Lutheran Center for Theological Studies (CLET), located in Dapaong, Togo. CLET serves the French-speaking West African Lutheran church bodies of seven countries: Togo, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Benin, Burkina Faso, Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2001, the church bodies established an international board to ensure that African leadership will promote and govern the center. The CLET program also has grown to include two tracks—a novice (pre-seminary) track tailored for leaders who have little formal education, and a track leading to ordination.
The LCMS missionary team in Togo developed this approach based on the realities of the fields—where the people are and what they need—rather than trying to take a syllabus from the United States and transfer it to Africa. Many church leaders have had only five years of formal education, and they read and write at a low level. Courses are all contextualized to address specific West African issues. Church planting is the central emphasis of program courses. After the first class of CLEF students finished their coursework, they collectively planted five churches!
In May 2002, the first five Togolese pastors were ordained in the Lutheran Church of Togo (ELT). A second class of four students of the CLET graduated and were ordained in December 2003 and February 2004 in the chapel of the Lutheran parish in Dapaong. At the end of 2006, the ELT was blessed with the ordination of five more new pastors. The men had completed three years of study at the Lutheran Center for Theological Studies in Dapaong, a year of field work, and at least one year of vicarage before reaching this goal.
Since 2009, LCMS missionaries are no longer residing in Togo, but missionaries serving regionally walk alongside the ELT as partners. In 2009, the ELT held its first general assembly with representatives from more than 30 parishes spread throughout northern Togo. Each parish that paid the necessary fee (about $20—equal to 20 days’ work for one person) and agreed to adhere to the constitution of the ELT became part of this newly-formed synod. The newly-written constitution was read before the assembly, and a committee of leaders was officially elected. The church is also working on a plan to set up a number of small libraries so that all leaders will be within walking distance of the books they need.
The LCMS has supported mercy projects in Togo by providing grants for interest-free loans to farmers so they might purchase livestock; provide medicine and medical equipment; dig wells; provide drought and famine relief; benefit agriculture programs; make road improvements; restore clinics; benefit literacy programs; and provide assistance to families affected by civil conflict and flood disaster response.
The Lutheran Church of Togo currently has 10 ordained ministers, more than 30 congregations and preaching stations and more than 5,000 baptized members.