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ELCT Bishop Alex Malasusa Will Deliver Finlandia University Commencement Address

Bishop Alex MalasusaHANCOCK, MI - Bishop Alex Gehaz Malasusa will deliver the 2010 Finlandia University Commencement address and receive an honorary doctoral degree, Sunday, May 2, 2010.

Bishop Malasusa was elected to preside over the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) Eastern and Coastal Diocese (ECD) in 2004. In 2007, he was elected as bishop of the ELCT, while continuing his responsibilities of the ECD.

Born in 1960, Malasusa is the youngest presiding bishop in ELCT history, and he represents a rising generation of African Lutheran leadership. He is from the Rungwe, Mbeya, region of Tanzania. He studied theology at the Makumira University College, becoming a pastor in 1994. He is married and has three children.

The ELCT is one of the fastest growing Lutheran churches in the world. In January 2010, it had over 5.3 million members, having grown from 4.6 million members in 2007; and it is the second largest Church in Tanzania, after the Roman Catholic Church, both according to the Lutheran World Foundation (LWF).

In its affiliation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and its location within the ELCA Northern Great Lakes Synod (NGLS), Finlandia University and its students have enjoyed many benefits of an 18-year partnership between the NGLS and the ECD.

Bishop Malasusa's leadership has been instrumental in providing opportunities for more than 40 Finlandia University students through the university's Service and Learning in Tanzania program. These students have experienced and learned about Tanzanian people and culture while volunteering at ECD schools and staying in the homes of Eastern Coastal Diocese church members.

The NGLS also helped sponsor the education of Salome Mnzava, an international student from Tanzania who completed a bachelor's in business administration at Finlandia in 2009.

Bishop Thomas Skrenes of the ELCA Northern Great Lakes Synod and his wife, Luanne, who is a member of Finlandia's Board of Trustees, nominated Bishop Malasusa to receive an honorary doctoral degree from Finlandia University.