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European Lutheran Conference: Sharing Hope in Times of Fear

Some of the participants in the 2021 European Lutheran Conference.

EUROPE – The 26th European Lutheran Conference (ELC) was held online from June 2-4, 2021, following a year’s delay due to the pandemic. Participants gathered under the theme “Sharing Hope in Times of Fear.”

The conference featured three keynote presentations: Rev. Sebastian Gruenbaum of Finland presented on “Living in My Generation: Hopes and Threats of Our Time in the Light of Christ’s Word;” Rev. Dr. Christian Neddens of Germany spoke on “Living with Hope in Daily Life: How the Christian Faith Shapes Our Actions and Witnessing to Our Generation;” and Rev. Dr. Asger Christian Hoejlund of Denmark lectured on “Hope as Drawn from Martin Luther’s Writings of 1520.”

“The presentations stimulated lots of discussion,” noted Chairman George Samiec of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England (ELCE), who participated in the event. In addition to the pandemic, he said, topics of discussion included personalities, the Last Judgement, looking to the future with fear or love, and the question of whether society is becoming increasingly intolerant. “It occurred to me that our conference theme is applicable all the time and not just in a pandemic,” Chairman Samiec continued, “because our world is full of mishap and mayhem, sudden death and chronic conditions where injustice and the grave seem to have the last word. Jesus has a message for all time because His love can cast out fear (1 John 4:18).”

The conference also featured morning and evening devotions, reports from member churches, group discussions of presentations, and the writing of a paper on the conference theme.

The next conference is set to take place in 2023 in Aarhus, Denmark. The Executive Committee members for that event are the same as for 2021’s: Rev. Klaus Pahlen of Germany’s Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (Selbständige Evangelisch—Lutherische Kirche – SELK) will serve as ELC President; President Leif Jensen of the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church in Denmark (Den evangelisk-lutherske Frikirke i Danmark – ELFD) will serve as ELC Vice President; and Rev. Claudio Flor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England will serve as ELC Secretary.

The ELC is an association of Confessional Lutheran church bodies in Europe. Delegates at this year’s conference included representatives of member churches in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, all of whom are also members of the International Lutheran Council. The event also saw guests from churches in the Czech Republic, Finland, Spain, and Switzerland.

Additional information on the European Lutheran Conference is available on their website at:


Evangelical Lutheran Church of England declares fellowship with Finnish and Norwegian churches

ELMDF Bishop Risto Soramies and ELCE Chairman Jon Ehlers sign documents recognizing fellowship between their two churches.

United Kingdom – The 65th Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England (ELCE) was held September 27-28 at Christ Church (Petts Wood), during which time the ELCE recognised church fellowship with the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland (ELMDF) and the Evangelical Lutheran-Diocese in Norway (DELSiN). These church fellowship recognitions are the culmination of five years of discussion, together with the Mission Province of Sweden and the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany.

Attending the ELCE Synod was Bishop Risto Soramies of the ELMDF and together with ELCE Chairman, Rev. Jon Ehlers, they signed documents and extended the right hand of fellowship. Bishop Soramies spoke about the situation in Finland, the history of his church, and their priorities in establishing worship places so that folk only have to travel up to one hour to attend worship. He also mentioned that the ELMDF was prioritising investing in personnel rather than buildings.

Bishop Thor Henrik With of the DELSiN at the last minute was unable to attend the Synod. Nevertheless the ELCE delegates also resolved recognition of church fellowship with the DELSiN.

The ELCE, ELMDF, DELSiN are all members of the International Lutheran Council.



British Lutherans hold 60th annual synod

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of England holds it annual synod in Ruislip, England.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of England holds it annual synod in Ruislip, England.

ENGLAND – The Evangelical Lutheran Church of England (ELCE) held its 60th annual synodical convention October 3-4 in Ruislip, England

At that time, the ELCE reelected Rev. George Samiec to another three-year term as Vice Chairman of the church body. Earlier this year, the European Lutheran Council reelected Rev. Samiec as its Secretary. The position of Chairman of the ELCE was not up for election this synod, and Rev. Jon Ehlers continues to serve in that capacity.

Rev. Dr. Boris Gunjević

Rev. Dr. Boris Gunjević

This year’s synodical theme was “Oratio—Living With God: The School of Prayer,” with Rev. Dr. Boris Gunjević serving as essayist. Dr. Gunjević currently serves as a Tutor at Westfield House in Cambridge. “Oratio is first in a famous Lutheran trilogy of Theology which we will be exploring over the next few years at our synodical gatherings,” explained Chairman Ehlers, “Oratio, Meditatio, and Tentatio (prayer, meditation, and suffering).”

“These theological disciplines may be undertaken individually and privately,” Chairman Ehlers continued, “but according to Luther these three are about how God’s Word proceeds in the Church and in the midst of a hostile world. These three rules are intimately interconnected and they are to be practised together in the life of the baptised believer.” The church will take up Meditatio (meditation) at its 2015 convention, which will be held October 2-3, 2015 in Coventry, England.

Rev. Dr. Didzis Stilve is installed as a pastor of the ELCE during the 60th annual synod.

Chairman Jon Ehlers installs Rev. Dr. Didzis Stilve as a pastor of the ELCE during the church’s 60th annual synod.

The convention also saw the installation of Rev. Dr. Didzis Stilve to the newly formed dual parish of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Rusilip (the host of this year’s convention) and St. Paul, Borehamwood. Dr. Stilve previously served in Riga, Latvia as a professor at Luther Academy and as a pastor of Bolderāja Lutheran Church.

Greetings to the convention came from a number of sister churches across the world, including those in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany, South Africa, and the United States of America.

The ELCE is a member of the International Lutheran Council, a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of England has 14 congregations and 6 missions throughout England, Wales, and Scotland, and also operates a theological house of study in Cambridge.


With notes from a report in The British Lutheran.

Lutheran institute in England granted Coat of Arms


Back row: Rev. Dr. Jonathan Mumme, Mayor Paul Saunders of Cambridge, Rev. Dr. Joel Humann, and Chairman Jon Ehlers. Front row: York Herald of Arms Peter O’Donoghue, Principal Cyndy Lumley, and Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire,  Hugh Duberly. (Image from Westfield House’s Facebook page).

ENGLAND – The Evangelical Lutheran Church of England (ELCE)’s theological institute, Westfield House, was granted its own Arms, Crest, and Badge in a special ceremony in Cambridge, April 22. In the United Kingdom, the right to grant heraldry is possessed by the monarchy, which in England exercises this right through the College of Arms.

“This was a very exciting occasion,” Cambridge News quoted Dr. Lumley, “as it marked the granting of our own Arms, Crest, and Badge, for which the development and application have been made possible by a generous grant from the Sukup Family Foundation in Iowa.” Dr. Lumley is scheduled to discuss the honour on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire the morning of April 27.

Civil leaders present for the ceremony were Her Majesty’s York Herald of Arms, Peter O’Donoghue; Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Hugh Duberly; and Mayor Paul Saunders of Cambridge. Church leaders present included Westfield House’s Principal, Dr. Cynthia Lumley, the school’s Interim Preceptor, Rev. Dr. Joel Humann, and the ELCE’s Chairman, Rev. Jon Ehlers.

Westfield House's new Coat of Arms.

Westfield House’s new Coat of Arms.

The arms and crest were designed by Rev. Dr. Jonathan Mumme, a Tutor at Westfield House, and Rev. David Jackson, an alumnus of Westfield and former ELCE pastor, now serving as a Lieutenant Chaplain the Royal Canadian Navy.

The crest features a rearing white horse, in reference to the White Horse Inn, a former Cambridge pub where the works of Martin Luther were read and discussed. The arms features a cross as its central motif; a book which alludes to Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, and education in general; and a Luther rose. The motto is Fidelis et verax—Latin for “faithful and true.” Additional information on the meaning of the crest, arms, moto, and badge are available at the website of The Friends of Westfield House.

Westfield House was first inaugurated as a house of theological studies on February 22, 1962.


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