GERMANY – The International Lutheran Council (ILC) is celebrating its 30th anniversary as a council this year, and will hold formal events to mark the anniversary in Wittenberg, Germany on October 14, 2023. The ILC adopted its current form on September 9, 1993, when 23 Lutheran church leaders from across the globe gathered in Antigua, Guatemala and unanimously adopted a Constitution and Guiding Principles. Today, the International Lutheran Council has grown to include 59 member churches representing more than 7.2 million Lutherans around the world.
“Wittenberg is of course the historic home of Martin Luther and the Reformation,” noted ILC General Secretary Timothy Quill. “From that epicentre, the Lutheran witness to the Gospel—grounded in the authority of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions—has gone out into the whole world. It is fitting then that confessional Lutherans from across the globe should gather again in Wittenberg to mark this important anniversary. The International Lutheran Council has grown to play a vital role in world Lutheranism, strengthening and supporting confessional churches in their witness to the good news of Jesus Christ.”
The anniversary events in Wittenberg will begin in the morning with a festive service of Choral Matins at St. Mary’s Church, the church where Luther regularly preached. ILC Chairman Juhana Pohjola (Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland) will serve as liturgist for the event, and General Secretary Timothy Quill will preach. Georg Mogwitz of St. Lukas Church in Leipzig will serve as cantor and organist, and the choir of St. Lukas Church will provide special music.
The service will also see a rite of prayer and blessing for the establishment of the ILC’s Accreditation Agency, a ministry that will assist Lutheran seminaries around the world in providing pastoral training and theological education grounded in Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.
Later in the afternoon, participants will gather for the keynote address. Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee, Past President of Lutheran Church–Canada and a member of the ILC’s Board of Directors,will speak on the history of the International Lutheran Council. A panel discussion will follow, led by members of the ILC’s board. Chairman George Samiec (Evangelical Lutheran Church of England) will serve as moderator, and panel members will include President Matthew Harrison (Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod), Archbishop Joseph Omolo (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya), President Antonia Reyes (Lutheran Church in the Philippines), and President Timothy Teuscher (Lutheran Church–Canada).
Finally, ILC Chairman Juhana Pohjola will provide concluding thoughts about where the ILC goes from here.
The ILC anniversary celebration itself will come at the culmination of a multi-day gathering of international Lutheran church leaders in Wittenberg organized by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
The International Lutheran Council is a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies which proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the basis of an unconditional commitment to Scripture and to the Lutheran Confessions. While the ILC is celebrating its 30th anniversary as a “council,” the full history of the organization goes back more than seven decades. The first large international gathering of Lutheran church leaders which gave birth to the ILC took place in Uelzen, Germany in 1952. At the third meeting of this group—in Cambridge, England in 1963—the gathering adopted the name “International Lutheran Theological Conference.” At the ninth gathering of the group—in Wabag, Papua New Guinea in 1978—the name was shortened to the “International Lutheran Conference.”
Finally, at its 15th gathering in Antigua, Guatemala, the ILC formally constituted itself as the International Lutheran Council. Since that time, the ILC has grown to play a major role in supporting confessional Lutheran churches around the world.
For further details on the International Lutheran Council’s 30th anniversary commemoration in Wittenberg, please contact the ILC.