ILC: Confessional Unity in Service to the Mission

Chairman Jon Ehlers
Chairman Jon Ehlers

by Jon Ehlers

As part of a new initiative, the International Lutheran Council’s (ILC) website will feature regular articles from members of the ILC’s Executive Council (composed of church leaders from around the world). These articles—devotions or commentaries on world events—are designed to nurture and foster our faith in Jesus Christ. This is the inaugural article in that series.

The International Lutheran Council is composed of 35 Lutheran Churches from around the world which proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the basis of an unconditional commitment to the Holy Scriptures as the inspired and infallible Word of God, and the Lutheran Confessions contained in the Book of Concord as the true and faithful exposition of the Word of God.

To assist us in accomplishing these goals, the Executive Council of the ILC recently met in Brazil to continue long range planning. We also had the great pleasure of attending the Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (Igreja Evangelica Luterana do Brasil—IELB), whose convention theme was “Our Confessional Unity in Service to the Mission.” This theme, I think, summarizes the purpose of the ILC marvelously—for ILC churches are firmly founded on the confession of Jesus Christ as our Saviour from sin.

This confession of salvation in Christ alone is revealed to us in the Bible, which is God’s inspired Word. We confess what God has revealed to us. We also hold to the Lutheran Confessions as a clear and accurate exposition of the Holy Scriptures. Being anchored solidly in the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions, our confession of faith is centred on Jesus Christ alone. ILC churches are churches which believe, teach and confess that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. For in Christ we know and understand that God is for us and that God really does love and forgive us.

This confession then serves as the basis for the mission of the ILC churches. We do not keep this wonderful Good News to ourselves, but we desire to share this message of salvation with all people. We take Jesus’ mandate seriously to go into all nations making disciples by baptising and teaching everyone about what Jesus has done for them. This mission to all people is based on the confession of faith revealed in the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions. We understand Confession and Mission as things that go hand in hand, in response to God’s love which has come to us through the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ.

It is our prayer that over the coming years, you will be able to find many items on this website which clearly and unashamedly confess Jesus Christ, as well as items which rejoice in and inform us of how God’s Word is reaching people around the world through the mission activities of ILC churches. Together we seek to keep these two important aspects of the Christian faith in their proper balance. So come along and join us as we share our “Confessional Unity in Service to the Mission.”

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Rev. Jon Ehlers is Chairman of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England. He serves on the Executive Council of the International Lutheran Council as the representative for the European world region.

Lutheran institute in England granted Coat of Arms

Westfield-House-Crest-Ceremony
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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