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.

———————-

 

French Lutherans Elect New President

Officers of the synodical board are installed. (Photo: Eric Préaud).
Officers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church–Synod of France are installed. Officers from left to right are: Andrianhery Rakotoniaina (Treasurer), Rev. Philippe Volff (Vice-President), Rev. Martin Jautzy (President), and Rev. David Maffett (Secretary). (Photo: Eric Préaud).
President Martin Jautzy. (Photo: Eric Préaud)
President Martin Jautzy. (Photo: Eric Préaud)

FRANCE – Representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church–Synod of France (Église Évangélique Luthérienne–Synode de France – EELSF) held their synodical convention May 6-8, 2016 in Châtenay-Malabry, during which the church elected Rev. Martin Jautzy as their new President.

President Elect Jautzy serves as pastor at Paroisse de Sion in Schilldersdor, Alsace. Prior to his election as synodical President, he served as a regional president.

“President Martin Jautzy was elected president with a clear majority,” noted outgoing President Roger Jones. “Our church will greatly benefit from his pastoral qualities.”

“It was a great privilege for me to serve our Church the last four years,” President Jones continued, noting his ability to work only part-time in recent years following a serious stroke in 2014. He expressed thanks for the prayers of the international Lutheran community during his recovery. “I thank you for your support and well-wishes which were a great encouragement. With God’s blessings, I am able to continue to serve.”

Also elected during the convention was Rev. David Maffett, who will serve the ELCSF as Secretary of the Synodical Board. Rev. Philippe Volff and Andrianhery Rakotoniaina were reelected to serve as Vice-President and Treasurer of the synod respectively.

———————

French Lutherans hold synod, establish relations with Swiss church

TEXTt
Rev. Walter Ralli  (Burgdorf, Switzerland); ELCSF Vice-President Philippe Volff; and ELCSF President Emeritus Jean Haessig.
The new French edition of Luther's Small Catechism.
The new French edition of Luther’s Small Catechism.

FRANCE – The Evangelical Lutheran Church – Synod of France (ELCSF held its synod November 9-11 in Schillersdorf, Alsace in France.

The convention opened the morning of Sunday, November 9 with a worship service alongside the congregation in Schillersdorf. The afternoon saw the official presentation of the ELCSF’s newly revised French edition of Luther’s Small Catechism. The same day saw the French church officially establish altar and pulpit fellowship with a group of confessional Lutherans in Switzerland.

“It is a joy to be able to recognize these Swiss Lutherans as our brothers and sisters in Christ,” said ELCSF Vice President Philippe Volff. “May God bless our ministry together as we proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to a broken world.”

Talks with the Swiss were conducted by ELCSF President Emeritus Jean Haessig. Rev. Walter Ralli (Burgdorf, Switzerland) attended the French church’s convention as a representative of the Swiss Lutherans.

Business continued Monday and Tuesday, with regular reports and a presentation on the finances of the church. Monday afternoon saw the exploration of this year’s convention theme: “Why I Am a Member of My Church.” Presenters on the topic included Rev. Jean-Louis Schaeffer, Rev. David Maffet, and Vice President Volff. Additional presentations focused on a discussion of the Church in the internet age.

The ELCSF holds its convention every two years, normally in May. This year’s convention had been postponed after President Roger Jones suffered a major stroke which left him hospitalized. The November date was eventually chosen to coincide with the release of the new catechism.

President Jones, who was elected to lead the ELCSF in 2012, recently began testing ministry related tasks to assess if he is ready to begin work again part-time. He returned to the pulpit for the first time since his stroke on October 19 and is currently leading a Bible study. He cannot yet travel and thus could not attend this year’s convention, so Vice President Philippe Volff substituted for him.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church – Synod of France has ten churches, eight pastors, and more than 700 members. It is a member of the International Lutheran Council.

———————

France’s Lutheran Church President Recovering After Stroke

President Roger Jones.
President Roger Jones.

FRANCE – During meetings of the International Lutheran Council and the European Lutheran Conference (ELC) in Bleckmar, Germany, French representatives reported that President Roger Jones of the Evangelical Lutheran Church – Synod of France (EELSF) is making steady recovery in hospital following a stroke.

President Jones suffered a severe stroke in March 2014, resulting from a previously unrecognized heart condition. Since then, he has been in hospital, having to learn anew how to walk and write. Despite these challenges, President Jones has seen in them opportunity for spiritual growth. “While I wouldn’t wish a stroke on anyone,” he writes in a letter read to conference participants in Bleckmar, “I think we can all pray, ‘Lord, increase my faith.’”

The EFC has assured President Jones of their prayers and well-wishes. “We are indeed saddened by your circumstances,” they write in a letter, “and yet you have encouraged us to continue to trust in God and to be assured that he is gracious and good. We pray for your continued recovery and that God will hold you and Emily, your congregation, and your church in his hands.”

Signing the ELC letter to President Jones.
Signing the ELC letter to President Jones.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church – Synod of France has ten churches, eight pastors, and more than 700 members. President Jones was elected to serve the church as its president in 2012.

———————