The leaders of two global Lutheran bodies have paid tribute to Rev Dr David Rakotonirina, President of Madagascar’s Malagasy Lutheran Church, who died earlier this month from COVID-19.
Dr Rakotonirina, 58, led the church known in Madagascar as Fiangonana Loterana Malagasy (FLM) since 2016. He died on 11 July in the nation’s capital Antananarivo, with his funeral held the next day.
‘President David Rakotonirina was a respected and committed confessional Lutheran churchman, and a good friend’, said International Lutheran Council (ILC) General Secretary Rev Dr Timothy Quill, who also asked Lutherans around the world to keep David’s wife and family, as well as the Malagasy church, in their prayers.
Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary Rev Dr Martin Junge expressed ‘deep shock and sadness’ upon learning of Dr Rakotonirina’s death. Dr Junge said: ‘We ask for your prayers that God may guide the leaders of the church and strengthen them all as they work together during this difficult moment for the church.’
In addition to serving as president of the FLM, President Rakotonirina was elected to the LWF Council in 2017. He assumed the presidency of the Council of Christian Churches in Madagascar in January 2020. In that position, he had encouraged the government to take greater steps to control the spread of the coronavirus and urged churchgoers to follow government health directives.
The Malagasy Lutheran Church is one of the largest and fastest-growing Lutheran church bodies in the world. It is a member of both ILC and LWF.