GERMANY – At the conclusion of the European Lutheran Conference’s (ELC) conference, members and guest-churches released a document entitled “Living in an Ecumenical World.” The document is meant to provide guidance and advice to ELC congregations and friendly churches throughout Europe.
“Our world is an ecumenical one as God has given his church—placed his people—throughout it,” the preamble to the document begins. “As Lutherans we recognize this in the use of the ecumenical creeds, and see our Lutheran Confessions—particularly the Augsburg Confession—as a testament to this truth. We also note the existence of the ecumenical movement of the past hundred years which has sought to minimise the fractures and divisions in the church as it works toward a visible unity. Nevertheless the church continues to fracture.”
The document goes on to consider the issue from a broad perspective down to a narrow one. It begins by considering the place of the ‘holy, Christian, and apostolic Church’ in an ecumenical world, before considering the subject from the vantage point of church bodies, then congregations, and finally Christians.
“We live at the time God has placed us,” the document notes in its conclusion. “His church is one. We also live as pilgrims in a fractured church where the confession of God’s Word is significantly different and at a time when our society increasingly marginalises us. Our understanding of Church means that we will be scrupulous about the truth of God’s Word (what it says and doesn’t say) and aware of our own history as church bodies. Confident of our confession, we are confident in our mission—not arrogantly but always in love—and eager to maintain the unity in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).”
An English translation of the document is available online here. German and French translations are forthcoming. Signatories of the document represent confessional Lutheran communities in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Finland, the Kyrgyz Republic, Siberia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States of America.
The European Lutheran Conference met together in Bleckmar, Germany from May 22-24, 2014.