GERMANY – Executive members of the International Lutheran Council (ILC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) met together in Wittenberg, Germany from November 12-13, 2013 to discuss issues of common interest. Propst Dr. Johann Schneider (Wittenberg-Regional Bishop of the Evangelical Church in Central Germany) hosted the representatives at an opening dinner, November 12.
The LWF was represented by Rev. Martin Junge (General Secretary of the LWF), Rev. Dr. Nicholas Tai (Dean of Lutheran Theological Seminary, Hong Kong), OKR Norbert Denecke (LWF German National Committee), Rev. Dr. Kaisamari Hintikka (LWF Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Relations), and Rev. Dr. Carlos Bock (Director of LWF Department for Mission and Development). Representing the ILC were Chairman Hans-Jörg Voigt (Bishop of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany), Rev. Dr. Albert Collver (Executive Secretary of the ILC), Asia World Area Representative Rev. James Cerdeñola (President of the Lutheran Church of the Philippines), and ILC Secretary Gijsbertus van Hattem (President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium).
Of particular concern was the recent disaster in the Philippines. Each organization noted that it is encouraging its member churches to support relief efforts and pray for those affected by the typhoon. Representatives also took time to celebrate the reunification of the Lutheran Church of the Philippines. The church had previously suffered 24 years of divisions but took a historic vote to reconcile in October, 2012. The LWF and the ILC committed to “continue to encourage and to pray for the Lutheran Church of the Philippines as it continues to strengthen and grow in its unity.”
The ILC and LWF also discussed their relationship with one another, noting that 11 churches hold dual membership in the two organizations. “Both the LWF and the ILC encouraged these churches to see themselves as a bridge of understanding between these organizations,” notes the official communiqué of the meeting. Recognizing some of the differences that exist between the ILC and the LWF, representatives at the meeting also “engaged in theological discussions regarding their respective positions and agreed that future theological discussion could be beneficial.”
Other business included discussion of both the Wittenberg Project and 500th anniversary commemorations of the Reformation in 2017.
The ILC and LWF first committed to regular meetings together as part of a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2005. The next ILC-LWF meeting will be hosted by the LWF in Geneva, Switzerland in January 2015.
More information on the November 2013 meeting is available in the official communiqué.