Reflections on the ILC Latin America regional conference

by Egon Kopereck

“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:3).

President Egon Kopereck.
President Egon Kopereck.

It was with these words—first uttered by the people of Israel when, in an unexpected, wonderful, and surprising way they received the right, the permission of God to leave their captivity and to return to their own country—it was with these words, that the Latin-American Lutheran churches returned to their homes, having participated in the International Lutheran Council’s Regional Conference (held earlier this month in Caracas, Venezuala).

They were four wonderful days of fellowship, study, reflection, debate, reports, exchange of experiences, and mutual strengthening. Participants highlighted in this conference the importance of reading, meditating, and deepening ever more our study of the word of God. They also stressed the importance of Lutheran Hour ministry outreach, which opens doors for the Church’s mission.

Conference participants stressed the need to provide theological support to smaller Lutheran churches in the region, especially through the theological seminaries of Brazil and Argentina. By helping each other and looking for more opportunities to cooperate, they hope to take Christ’s message, the Gospel of salvation to all people, races, peoples and nations of Latin America and, where possible, to cross the seas with this challenge to go to the “ends of the Earth”—something Brazil is already doing in Africa with Mozambique and Angola.

In Latin America we have many challenges, many opportunities, and much work to do. People are thirsty for the water of life; if we don’t offer it, as Jesus asks us to, then people will turn to contaminated water—waters of death and not life.

People are thirsty for the water of life; if we don’t offer it, as Jesus asks us to, then people will turn to contaminated water—waters of death and not life.

Many of us today cannot imagine living in a house where you don’t have water: water to drink, water for washing, water for cooking, well-water. So too we cannot imagine a Christian home without the Bible, God’s Word, the water of life. Christian homes, satiated in their own spiritual thirst for truth, cannot look to others without extending to them the same blessing, without offering them that treasure of eternal life. They share it with their compatriots of all peoples, races, and nations. They share it with them who are dying of thirst and starvation.

With cheerful and grateful hearts, therefore, we also say: “The LORD has done great things for us” (Psalm 126:3). But on the other hand we also say with Nehemiah, “the work is great and widely spread” (Nehemiah 4:19). As the Israelites did then, so too we also “prayed to our God” (Nehemiah 4:9), that He would bless our lives and attitudes as people of God, and our testimony of what we believe and confess. May God bless the mission of the Christian Church throughout the world.

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Rev. Egon Kopereck is President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil and sits on the International Lutheran Council’s Executive as representative for Latin America.

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IELB celebrates 110th anniversary

BRAZIL – The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (Igreja Evangelica Luterana do Brasil—IELB) celebrated their 110th anniversary as a church in Brazil at its national convention May 1-4. President Egon Kopereck was re-elected May 2 to serve the IELB for another term. See the convention in photos below:

President Matthew Harrison (left) of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod gives the keynote presentation at the IELB’s 61st convention. His presentation was titled “The Challenge to Preserve Confessional Identity,” and was based upon Martin Luther’s On Counsels and the Church. Rev. Gerson Lindon (right) translates for President Harrison.
International Lutheran Council (ILC) Vice Chairman Robert Bugbee (President of Lutheran Church–Canada) greets the convention. ILC members and other international guests stand in the background.
President Egon Kopereck (left) of the IELB signs a protocol document for altar and pulpit fellowship with St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Congregation (Congregacion Evangélica Luterana San Pablo) of Montevideo, Uruguay. At the convention, the IELB also committed to church planting in Mozambique.
In between sessions of the IELB convention, the ILC conducted strategic planning. A significant part of the time was spent planning for next year’s World Conference in South America. ILC Executive Secretary Albert Collver is featured in this photo.
Over 7,000 people arrived by the bus load for the worship service commemorating the 110th anniversary of the IELB. The choir alone numbered in the thousands.
Some of the international guests at the IELB convention. LCMS President Matthew Harrison, ILC Secretary Gijsbertus van Hattem (President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium), ILC Executive Secretary Albert Collver, and ILC Chairman Hans-Jörg Voigt (Bishop of Germany’s Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church.

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ILC Meeting in Brazil

BRAZIL – On the first weekend of May, the International Lutheran Council’s (ILC) Executive Council held meetings together in Acracuz, Brazil, where they had gathered for the 61st convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (Igreja Evangelica Luterana do Brasil—IELB). A visual snapshot of their meetings appear below:

ILC Chairman Hans-Jörg Voigt (Bishop of Germany’s Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church) talks to Rev. Ted Krey (Latin American Regional Director for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod) about the situation of the church in Latin America.
The ILC Executive Committee is interviewed by press for the IELB. Pictured in top frame: ILC Executive Secretary Albert Collver and ILC Vice Chairman Robert Bugbee (President of Lutheran Church–Canada).
A look at the agenda for the ILC’s meetings.

In addition to regular business, the ILC Executive Committee worked on strategic planning centered around the ILC’s core objectives.

The ILC Executive Committee meets in Brazil (left to right): ILC Executive Secretary Albert Collver; ILC Africa Region representative Christian Ekong (Archbishop of the Lutheran Church of Nigeria); ILC Chairman Hans-Jörg Voigt (Bishop of Germany’s Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church); ILC Latin America Region representative Egon Kopereck (President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil); President Matthew Harrison of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (guest at the meetings); ILC Vice Chairman Robert Bugbee (President of Lutheran Church–Canada and ILC North America Region representative); ILC representative for the European region Jon Ehlers (Chairman of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England; ILC Secretary Gijsbertus van Hattem (President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium); and ILC Asia Region representative James Cerdinõla (President of the Lutheran Church of the Philippines.

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Brazilian Church holds 61st National Convention

IELBwebBRAZIL – The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (Igreja Evangelica Luterana do Brasil—IELB) is holding its 61st National Convention from May 1-4 in the city of Aracruz in the province of Espírito Santo. More than 1,100 people are registered to take part in the convention, with more than 7,000 people expected to attend the convention’s closing worship service.

The convention begins the morning of May 1 with an opening worship service. President Egon Kopereck of the IELB will preach that day. The convention will include a presidential election, with President Kopereck having indicated his willingness to stand for a second term. He first came to office in 2010.

On May 2, Brazilian pastor Rev. Mario R. Yude Fukue will take the stage as the convention’s first lecturer, speaking on “The Challenge of Being a Confessional Church in Missions Today.” The day following, Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison (President of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod) will lecture on “The Challenge of Preserving Confessional Identity.”

A number of dignitaries will be present for the event in addition to President Harrison. Partner churches from various countries are sending representatives, including International Lutheran Council (ILC) Chairman Hans-Jörg Voigt (Bishop of Germany’s Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church), ILC Vice-Chairman Robert Bugbee (President of Lutheran Church–Canada), President Gijsbertus van Hattem (Belgium), Chairman Jon Ehlers (United Kingdom), Archbishop Christian Ekong (Nigeria), and President James Cerdeñola (Philippines).  Local Brazilian government officials, including Espírito Santo’s Governor, José Renato Casagrande, and Deputy Governor, Givaldo Vieira, have also confirmed their attendance at the convention’s closing service.

Among other business, the convention will see the signing of a cooperation protocol document between the IELB and St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Congregation (Congregacion Evangélica Luterana San Pablo) in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil grew out of missionary work by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in the early 1900s. It became self-governing in 1980. Today, the IELB has approximately 240,000 baptized members.

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