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World seminaries conference discusses Lutheran identity

September 10, 2010 No Comment

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Some 65 seminary professors and representatives from 24 countries gathered on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary (CTS), Fort Wayne, Indiana, June 3–6, 2010, as part of a world seminaries conference. Representing Lutheran Church–Canada were Dr. William Mundt and Dr. John Stephenson from Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, Ont. and Dr. Edward Kettner and Professor Jonathan Kraemer from Concordia Lutheran Seminary, Edmonton.

The conference, sponsored by the International Lutheran Council (ILC), was meeting for the fourth time under the theme “Confessional Lutheran Identity in the Light of Changing Christian Demographics.”
The keynote speaker, Dr. Philip Jenkins of Pennsylvania State University, who has written several books on the state and future of Christianity, including The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity and The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South, set the scene by predicting trends in a global north to south shift in the center of gravity of Christianity. Dr. Jenkins sees this trend continuing to shape a very different picture of world Christianity from that which we currently recognize.

Dr. John Stephenson (r) confers with Daniel Schmidt from Lutheran Theological Seminary, Oberursel, Germany between sessions

The second keynote speaker was Dr. Erní Seibert, a Lutheran pastor and theologian from Brazil, now serving as the director for Communications for the Brazil Bible Society. He spoke on the topic “Confessional Lutheran Identity in the Light of the Changing Christian Demographics.”
Presenters from five continents addressed the topic from the perspective of their own continental experience. The aim of sharing this information was to help regions on each side of the demographic shift to prepare for, and to collaborate in, the training of pastors and church workers in light of their developing situation. “This timely meeting brought together theological educators from all continents to start working together to propose strategies for meeting this great challenge,” said Dr. Douglas L. Rutt, associate professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions at CTS, chairman of the seminary relations committee of the ILC and conference organizer.

In view of the interest in the topics being discussed at the ILC conference, two other groups asked to share in the keynote presentations and some of the subsequent discussions. The groups participating were the faculties of the two Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) seminaries and the theology departments of the Concordia University System, as well as a conference of church leaders from ILC and non-ILC countries who were meeting for consultations including preparations for celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. Canadian representatives included President Robert Bugbee and Rev. Warren Hamp from LCC’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations.

The seminary provided an ideal venue for this international meeting with its state-of-the-art facilities, pleasant surroundings and multilingual team providing simultaneous translation. In addition to participating in lively debate, delegates also had the opportunity to worship together in the Saarinen-designed Kramer Chapel on the seminary campus and to attend in Sunday services in several of the LCMS churches in Fort Wayne.

The International Lutheran Council is a worldwide association of 34 established confessional Lutheran Churches united around the commitment to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the basis of an unconditional commitment to the Holy Scriptures as the inspired and infallible Word of God and to the Lutheran Confessions contained in the Book of Concord as the true and faithful exposition of the Word of God.

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