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ILC executive meets with global leaders of confessional Lutheranism

November 5, 2012 No Comment

ILC Executive (l-r): President Christian Ekong (Lutheran Church of Nigeria); President James Cerdeñola (Lutheran Church in the Philippines); President Gijsbertus van Hattem (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium); Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt (Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany); President Robert Bugbee (Lutheran Church–Canada) Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III (The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod); Chairman Jon Ehlers (Evangelical Lutheran Church of England)

by Albert B. Collver III

ATLANTA, Georgia – On the 495th anniversary of the Reformation, members of the International Lutheran Council’s (ILC) Executive Committee joined more than 120 global Lutheran leaders at the International Conference on Confessional Leadership to discuss the Lutheran Church in the 21st century. The conference focused on the themes of Witness (Martyría), Mercy (Diakonía) and Life Together (Koinonía), with keynote presenters on each topic and responses from leaders in Asia, Africa, North America, South America, and Europe.

One of the speakers at the event, Rev. Dr. Jobst Schoene—Bishop emeritus of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (SELK)—observed that participants were “linked to each other as Lutherans who take their confession seriously. To express our God-given Koinonía, we get to take responsibility for each other.” But, he noted, “There is still a lot to do: more exchange, for instance, of theological discussion, exchange of teachers, of servants in the ministry. Mutual assistance and help in various fields. The practice of intercommunion and intercelebration where there is doctrinal agreement. And if that’s missing: to work for such agreement. Can we any longer afford to let Koinonía at the altar have a minor ranking among International Lutheran Council (ILC) churches?”

Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III, newly appointed ILC Executive Secretary, commented, “Right now we have a unique opportunity among world Lutherans who are interested in a church that confesses the Scriptures and the Book of Concord. And the ILC is composed of churches that take the Scriptures and the Book of Concord seriously. In light of the things that are going on in the world, the social upheavals, and unbiblical teachings, Lutherans around the world are looking for a church that takes these things seriously. The ILC is extremely happy to be at this conference representing 20-plus million Lutherans around the world. It is a tremendous opportunity for the ILC to promote its message.”

“We are using the opportunity to meet as the executive committee of the ILC and have the great pleasure to welcome Rev. Collver, our new executive secretary, while we attend the conference as church leaders from all parts of the ILC,” said Rev. Hans Jorg Voigt, Bishop of SELK and Chairman of the ILC.

“Of course, the concerns that bring all these people together… really overlap very strongly with the concerns of the ILC, and that’s to try to create a clear profile not only in our churches, but in the world of a faithful Lutheran witness,” noted Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee, President of Lutheran Church–Canada and Vice-Chairman of the ILC. “We all realize that there is a great openness to this sort of thing. It is a challenging time, and so we are very grateful that we are able to be included in this conference and have time to work on our ILC business as well.”

The conference was sponsored by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and funded by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

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Rev. Dr. Albert Collver III is Executive Secretary for the International Lutheran Council and Director of Church Relations for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. This article is adapted from a Witness, Mercy, Life Together report.

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