French Lutherans elect new president

EELSF President Gleisson R. Schmidt

FRANCE – The Evangelical Lutheran Church – Synod of France (Église Évangélique Luthérienne–Synode de France – EELSF) has elected Rev. Dr. Gleisson R. Schmidt of Paris to a four-year term as president.

Originally scheduled for April 2020, the EELSF’s Synodical Convention had to be postponed as a result of coronavirus restrictions. A condensed version of the convention was ultimately held electronically on November 15.

President Schmidt succeeds Rev. Martin Jautzy, who did not stand for reelection to a second term. Born in Erechim, Brazil, President Schmidt studied theology at Concordia Institute of São Paulo, and served congregations in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (Igreja Evangélica Luterana do Brasil – IELB) from 2002-2018. Alongside his pastoring work, he also served as a professor of philosophy at Brazil’s Federal University of Technology – Paraná. In 2014, he earned his doctorate from the Federal University of Santa Catarina.

Rev. Schmidt often spent extended periods in Paris where he participated in the congregational life of St. Sauveur Evangelical Lutheran Church. He accepted a call to the congregation in 2018.

The International Lutheran Council’s (ILC) Chairman, Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt of Germany’s Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church, sent congratulations to President Schmidt on his election. “I want to congratulate you and extend to you my wishes for God’s grace and blessing upon your election and installation into the office of President and Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church – Synod of France,” Chairman Voigt wrote. “We pray that our Lord and Saviour keep and guide you during these challenging times.”

The convention also saw the election of three other members to the EEL-SF’s board alongside President Schmidt, including Rev. Philippe Volff (Strasbourg) as Vice-President; Noëlle Boisnault (Châtenay-Malabry) as Secretary; and Béatrice Grimaldi (Châtenay-Malabry) as Treasurer.

Other business of the convention included the election of auxiliary members to assist the board, the election of members of the church’s Committee of Theological Studies, and the presentation of several reports.

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European Lutheran Conference meets in Belgium, celebrates 450th anniversary of first Lutheran congregation in Antwerp

Delegates to the 2016 meeting of the European Lutheran Conference.
Delegates to the 2016 meeting of the European Lutheran Conference.

BELGIUM – From June 1-5, 2016 Lutherans from several European Lutheran churches assembled in Antwerp, Belgium, for the 24th European Lutheran Conference (ELC), under the theme ‘Reformation then … and now.’

The conference was attended by ELC member churches representatives from Belgium, Denmark, England, France, and Germany, as well as by guests from the Czech Republic, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States of America.

A keynote address on the conference’s theme was delivered by Dr. Werner Klän of Germany. An opening service, morning devotions with Bible studies, and evening prayers shaped the spiritual frame of the conference. Several of the guest churches in attendance have expressed their intention to apply for membership in the coming years.

A special focus of this year’s conference was the commemoration of the 450th anniversary of the establishment of the first Lutheran congregation in Antwerp, which was founded in 1566. From June 2-3, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium (ELKB) hosted an international conference highlighting this event, organized by ELKB President Gijsbertus van Hattem in cooperation with the University of Antwerp, and held at the Rubenianum.

Participants in the International Conference recognizing the 450th anniversary of the establishment of the first Lutheran congregation in Antwerp.
Participants in the International Conference recognizing the 450th anniversary of the establishment of the first Lutheran congregation in Antwerp.

The conference was opened with two keynote lectures: “The International Dimensions of the Wittenberg Reformation” by Dr. Robert Kolb (Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri), and “Reformation Movements and the Wonderyear: the Antwerp Context” by Dr. Guido Marnef (University of Antwerp). The second day of the conference featured six additional lectures:  “The Role of Antwerp’s Reformed Augustinians in the Early Reformation” by Dr. Robert Christman (Luther College, Decorah, Iowa);  “Humanists on the Move: The Transfer of Ideas Between Wittenberg and Antwerp” by Dr. Victoria Christman (Luther College, Decorah, Iowa); “The First Lutheran Congregation 1566–1585 and Beyond” by Rev. Gijsbertus van Hattem (Lutheran Church of Antwerp, Belgium); “Polemics, Church Order and Confession: Matthias Flacius Illyricus in Antwerp during the ‘Wonderjaar’ 1566/67” by Dr.  Luka Ilic (Leibniz Institute, Mainz, Germany); “Christopher Plantin, Printing for the Reformation” by  Dirk Imhof (Plantin-Moretus Museum, Antwerp, Belgium); and “The Image Debates in the Low Countries: an Art Historical Review” by Dr.  Koenraad Jonckheere (Ghent University, Belgium).

President Leif Jensen (left) preached for the ELC's closing service while ELKB President Gijsbertus van Hattem served as liturgist.
President Leif Jensen of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark (left) preached for the ELC’s closing service while ELKB President Gijsbertus van Hattem served as liturgist.

The conference concluded with a walking tour through 16th Century Antwerp, ending with a reception at the Town Hall, where Antwerp’s mayor Bart De Wever welcomed the participants.

The European Lutheran Conference concluded with Divine Service on June 5. ELKB President and local pastor Gijsbertus van Hattem led the liturgy, while President Leif Jensen of the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church in Denmark preached.

The next conference of the European Lutheran Conference will be held in England in 2018.

All of the member churches of the ELC are also member churches of the International Lutheran Council, a global association of confessional Lutheran churches.

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