German Lutherans declare fellowship with six new church bodies

SELK Bishop Voigt (far right) greets (front l-r) DELSin Bishop With, ELMDF Bishop Soramies, and AALC Presiding Pastor Leins following the vote to recognize fellowship. (Photo: Dörte Pape via DELSiN.)

GERMANY – The Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (Selbständige Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche) held its 14th National Church Synod from May 21-26, 2019 in Balhorn, Germany, during which time the church declared fellowship with six church bodies from Europe, North America, and South America.

The SELK’s new fellowship partners include the American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC), the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina (IELA), the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland (ELMDF), the Lutheran Church Synod of Nicaragua (ILSN), the Evangelical-Lutheran Diocese in Norway (DELSiN), and the Mission Province in Sweden. (The Mission Province still needs to ratify the agreement with SELK before fellowship between the two churches will take effect.)

SELK also declared fellowship with Concordia Fellowship, an Evangelical Lutheran Free Church in Celle, Germany.

“It’s a joy to recognize fellowship with our brothers and sisters around the world,” noted SELK Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt. “We look forward to nurturing the growing relationships between our various church bodies, and looking for new opportunities for cooperation and partnership in our proclamation of the Gospel.”

The resolution to declare fellowship was followed by a standing ovation and a hymn of thanksgiving. The heads of three of the new partner church bodies—Bishop Thor Henrik With (DELSiN), Bishop Risto Soramies (ELMDF), and Presiding Pastor Curtis Leins (AALC)—were all on hand for the event.

SELK’s 2019 Synod met under the theme: “Good News in a Fake News World. Speakers for the event were Professor Dr. Christian Neddens (Oberursel, Germany) and Rev. Dr. Robert Kolb (St. Louis, Missouri). Among other business, the church accepted a new document from SELK’s Theological Commission on “The Lutheran Church and Judaism,” discussed the role of women in the church, and conducted elections for various boards and commissions.

SELK, the AALC, IELA, ELMDF, ILSN, DELSiN, and the Mission Province are all members of the International Lutheran Council, a growing association of confessional Lutheran churches around the world.

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ILC joins local Argentines for worship, pledges support for Buenos Aires seminary

A choir performs during worship at St. Peter church in Buenos Aires.
A choir performs during worship at St. Peter church in Buenos Aires.

ARGENTINA – In the final days of the 2015 World Conference of the International Lutheran Council (ILC), participants joined local Argentine Lutherans for worship and fellowship. On the final day, the ILC also pledged a financial gift to support the work of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina’s (IELA) Concordia Seminario (Concordia Seminary) in Buenos Aires.

IELA President Carlos Nagel preaches at St. Peter church in Buenos Aires.
IELA President Carlos Nagel preaches.

On the evening of September 26, the conference joined Peace Church and School in San Justo, Buenos Aires for Vespers. After worship, the congregation and school hosted ILC participants for a traditional picada meal of sliced meats, cheeses, bread, and drinks. On the next morning, participants joined St. Peter Church in Villa Ballester, Buenos Aires for Sunday morning worship. IELA President Carlos Nagel preached on the work of angels, noting the festival of St. Michael and All Angels, and a choir performed special music for the event.

Following the service, the International Lutheran Council’s newly elected Executive Council was officially installed. At this time, ILC Chairman Hans-Jörg Voigt also took the opportunity to officially thank the Argentine church for their hospitality, presenting small gifts of thanks to President Nagel and others.

ILC participants visit the IELA's Seminario Concordia (Concordia Seminary) in Buenos Aires.
ILC participants visit the IELA’s Seminario Concordia (Concordia Seminary) in Buenos Aires.

After worship, ILC participants were welcomed to the IELA’s Seminario Concordia, where they toured the facility and learned about its history and present work. The seminary is 73 years old, and was founded by the Argentine church as a means to provide local theological training for pastoral candidates.

ILC participants enjoy a traditional Argentine barbeque.
ILC participants enjoy a traditional Argentine barbeque.

A traditional asado barbecue with seminary students, faculty, and the wider community followed, as did a program including greetings, special music, traditional dance, and closing worship.

Many of the ILC’s Latin American churches send pastoral candidates to the Buenos Aires seminary for theological education. During the program, the heads of six of these church bodies took the stage, flanked by their church’s students at the Buenos Aires seminary, to thank the Argentine church. They spoke of the valuable service Seminario Concordia provides not only to the Argentine church but to Lutherans across Latin America, and expressed their thanks and support for their faithful work.

ILC Executive Secretary Al Collver announces a $12,000 gift to Concordia Seminario in Buenos Aires.
ILC Executive Secretary Al Collver announces a $12,000 gift to Concordia Seminario in Buenos Aires.

Rev. Dr. Al Collver, Executive Secretary of the ILC, also addressed the crowd to thank the Argentine church for their hospitality and to highlight the work of the seminary in Buenos Aires. He further announced a gift of $12,000 USD to the seminary on behalf of the International Lutheran Council, in recognition of the service it provides to confessional Lutherans across Latin America.

The official program of the ILC’s 2015 World Conference came to a conclusion following the seminary barbecue.

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