WORTHINGTON — More than 100 visitors — including some from Canada, Texas, the East Coast and across the Midwest — will be in Worthington this weekend for a gathering of the Sudanese Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society.
Nybar Theal and Nyareat Bol of Worthington are both deaconesses in the society, and were instrumental in bringing the gathering to Worthington. Worship services are planned both today and Sunday at St. Matthew Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), Worthington. The church hosts a Sudanese worship service the third Sunday of each month at noon.
With the first North American gathering of the Sudanese Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society taking place four years ago, Theal said they it has met the past three years in Texas.
“When they go to Texas, I never go there because I work,” she said.
Now that the group is coming to Worthington, Theal grins broadly when she talks about the opportunity to gather with other Sudanese women and men to worship, pray, celebrate and, of course, eat foods similar to those made in their homeland.
“(Saturday) will be a big day for us, for all of the women,” Theal said, adding that she has the help of three other local women — as well as several men — to host the gathering. Some members of the St. Matthew Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) will also be on hand to help with the event.
Theal joined the Lutheran faith in her homeland of Sudan in 1987, and continued in her faith when she moved to Kenya in 1992. When arriving in Worthington in 2008, she joined St. Matthew.
In her homeland of Sudan, the Lutheran women gathered monthly to pray and socialize — something Theal said she missed after relocating to the United States.
“Right now we do it once a year because we’re busy,” Theal said. “We pray to God and be happy.”
Three pastors are expected to join in the event and lead the approximately two-hour worship services on Saturday and Sunday, including Pastor James Reuy, who leads the Sudanese worship services at St. Matthew, and pastors from Canada and Lincoln, Neb.
“The pastors do a good thing with this,” Theal said, explaining that the gathering also raises funds to help people back home in Africa.
“We come together every year and collect some money,” she said. “People back home, they do build a lot of churches and put the pastors through school.”
The Sudanese Lutheran men also have a group — the Lutheran Mission Society — and St. Matthew provides some support to help spread the word of God.
After the service today, Theal said the women will gather in the church basement to prepare traditional Sudanese food.
“We will be cooking meat and potatoes and our other food,” she said.
The men will join the women on Saturday, and on Sunday the children will be included in activities.
Theal said there may be a youth group attending the Sunday gathering as well.
“It’s going to be more fun, I think, because we get to see different faces,” said Theal of this weekend’s gathering. “It’s going to be a great day tomorrow (Saturday) because all of the Sudanese women come together.”