ARGENTINA – The International Lutheran Council welcomed church leaders representing millions of Lutherans from across the globe to its 2015 triennial convention. In total, 22 member churches, three new member churches, and eight guest churches from across every continent were present for the 25th (10th) World Conference of the ILC, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Members in attendance
Eight member churches from the Latin America region were represented at the conference, including President Carlos Nagel of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina, President Rene Mendoza Viorel of the Christian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bolivia (Associate Member), President Egon Kopereck of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil, President Cristian E. Rautenberg of the Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile, Bishop Abdiel Orozco Aguirre of the Lutheran Church in Guatemala, President Isaac Guadalupe Garcia Castillo of the Lutheran Synod of Mexico, President Norberto M. Gerke of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Paraguay, and President J. Elias Lozano of the Lutheran Church of Venezuela.
Representing European member churches were President Gijsbertus van Hattem of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium, President Leif G. Jensen of the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church in Denmark (Associate Member), Chairman Jon Ehlers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England, Vice-President Philippe Volff of the Evangelical Lutheran Church—Synod of France, Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt of Germany’s Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church, and Bishop Arri Kugappi Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia.
Four North American ILC member churches were represented at the conference, including President Robert Bugbee of Lutheran Church–Canada, President Marky Kessa of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti, Presiding Pastor Curtis Leins of The American Association of Lutheran Churches, and President Matthew C. Harrison of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
As a result of visa difficulties, only two leaders of African ILC member churches and two Asian ILC member churches were able to attend this year’s conference: Bishop Modise Maragelo of the Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, Bishop Dieter Reinstorf of the Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa, President Shin Shimizu of the Japan Lutheran Church, and President Chul-Hwan Kim of the Lutheran Church in Korea. President Carlos Nagel of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina, which hosted the conference, took the opportunity during greetings on the first day of the conference to express his deep regret that visa difficulties had left a number of ILC churches in Asia and Africa unable to attend this year’s conference.
Also present for the conference were three church bodies who were later accepted into membership during the 2015 World Conference—two church bodies from Europe and one from Latin America: Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin (Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church), President Marvin Donaire (Lutheran Church Synod of Nicaragua), and Acting Bishop Torkild Masvie (Lutheran Church in Norway).
Guests in attendance
In addition to delegates from ILC member churches, guests from a number of other Lutheran churches and fellowships were in attendance for the 2015 World Conference. These special guests included representatives from:
- Ethiopia: General Secretary Ofga Berhanu of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus
- Finland: Bishop Risto Soramies of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland
- Kazakhstan: Bishop Alexander Burtsev of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kazakhstan
- Sweden: Bishop Roland Gustafsson of the Mission Province in Sweden
- Tanzania: Bishop Emmanuel Makala of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (South East of LakLarch in Tanzania (South East ofof the Mission Province in Swedendance for the World Conference. (China Evangelical LUtheran Che Victoria Diocese)
- Ukraine: Bishop Serge Maschewski of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ukraine
- Uruguay: Rev. André Luiz Muller of the Lutheran Church in Uruguay
Of these guests, the Ethiopian and Tanzanian churches represent the two largest Lutheran church bodies in the world, with growing memberships of 7.2 million and 6.5 million members respectively.
The presence of all these guests serves as a reminder that the ILC continues to grow as a key facilitator of dialogue between various Lutheran churches around the world.