GERMANY – The International Lutheran Council (ILC) held its 2014 European regional conference on March 21, 2014 in Bleckmar, Germany.
14 church leaders from all over Eurasia attended the conference, with many of the attendees representing churches and groups of Lutherans that are not currently members of the ILC officially, but are nevertheless interested in and supportive of its work.
Presentations during the day centered around the subject of church fellowship. Bishop Risto Soramies of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland (SEL), Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt of Germany’s Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK), and Rev. Ing. Libor Šikula, a member of the Church Council of the Czech Republic’s Silesian Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Augsburg Confession (SECAC), all addressed the conference, explaining their church’s understanding of the nature of fellowship. Discussion then moved to the floor, where attendees contemplated how the ILC can foster greater fellowship between confessional Lutherans in Europe.
Of the three presenters at the conference, only Bishop Voigt represents a church that is currently a full-member of the ILC. The Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany has more than 34,000 baptized members. In addition to serving as head of SELK, Bishop Voigt further serves the ILC as Chairman of its Executive Council.
The Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland emerged after confessional Lutherans within the established Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland grew concerned over the church’s break from historic Lutheran doctrine. It officially formed as an independent diocese in May 2013. It has 33 congregations all across Finland. The diocese has strong ties to the Mission Province of Sweden and the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of Norway, Scandinavian Lutheran groups who have similarly registered confessional disagreement with their countries’ established Lutheran church bodies.
The Silesian Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Augsburg Confession is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, but also has close ties to ILC churches. SECAC has a partnership agreement with SELK, for example, and also cooperates with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in a number of areas. SECAC has approximately 20,000 members, making it the largest Lutheran church in the Czech Republic.
Following the ILC’s Regional European Conference, most of the attendees are staying on in Bleckmar for the convention of the European Lutheran Conference (ELC).