Nicaraguan Lutherans call for prayer following earthquake

Distributing food and other supplies to those affected by the earthquake.
Distributing food and other supplies to those affected by the earthquake.

NICARAGUA – Late on June 9, a major earthquake struck Nicaragua near the community of Chinandega, damaging multiple buildings and homes.

The Lutheran Church—Synod of Nicaragua (Iglesia Luterana—Sínodo de Nicaragua – ILSN), has been hit particularly hard by the quake. “Our communities were severely affected by the earthquake,” ILSN President Marvin Donaire explains. “The people of La Joya, El Piloto, Rancheria, La Villa 15 de Julio, and Tonalas Morazan are sleeping on the street, because the earth continues shaking.”

The initial quake, which measured 6.1 on the Richter Scale, had its epicenter near Chinandega. The western coast of Nicaragua has suffered a series of aftershocks in the days following the earthquake, with magnitudes ranging from 4.4 to 5.1 so far. Aftershocks are expected to continue for weeks or even months.

A building damaged in the earthquake.
A building damaged in the earthquake.

President Donaire has called on the international Lutheran community for prayers and support. “Brothers, we need your prayer,” he said. “We need help for our brethren through your prayers. The entire western region has been damaged: homes have been destroyed and our churches severely damaged. May God bless you for your prayers.”

The ILSN was founded through the missionary activity of Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC), which is working with the ILSN to determine appropriate relief efforts. LCC is still assessing the full extent of the situation and determining how best to assist the Nicaraguan church. In the meantime, it is sending $3,000 USD immediately from its Emergency Relief Fund to assist with primary level needs, including purchasing food, blankets, and clothing to distribute to people in the affected area.

Families sleep in a make-shift shelter, following earthquakes and aftershocks.
Families sleep in a make-shift shelter, following earthquakes and aftershocks.

Roberto José, the administrator of LCC’s Mission Centre in Chinandega (which is near the epicenter of the quake), is conducting field visits in order to prepare estimates of additional needs. “We are waiting on additional details from the Mission Centre at this time,” explains Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel, LCC’s Executive for Missions and Social Ministry. “We are ready to send additional funds to help with relief efforts as needs become better known.”

The ILSN and LCC are both member churches of the International Lutheran Council, a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies.

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Confessional Lutherans and Anglicans in North America draw closer together

 

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NORTH AMERICA – Participants in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), and Lutheran Church–Canada’s (LCC) ongoing ecumenical dialogue have released an interim report on their work so far. Entitled “On Closer Acquaintance,” the document is the culmination of six years of regular discussions between the three church bodies, and highlights the discovery of significant doctrinal agreement between the Anglican and Lutheran participants.

The authors are clear that there is still much work to be done before altar and pulpit fellowship between the two sides would be possible. Nevertheless, they have found the discussions promising enough to publicly declare their prayer “that, in the time and manner of His choosing, our Lord would grant each side in our conversations to acknowledge our ‘first cousin’ to be in fact a true sister church, with the result that we would welcome each other wholeheartedly to our respective altars and enjoy the blessed situation in which our clergy and people would be interchangeable with each other as we stand under the grace of God and work for His kingdom.”

In the meantime, they encourage all three church bodies to “consider the ways in which we can cooperate and come together in ways that fall short of full communion but do allow the greatest measure of cooperation while maintaining full theological integrity.”

The report can be download here.

Church leaders react

The leaders of the three churches welcomed the report warmly, reflecting on the growing relationship between confessional Anglicans and Lutherans.

“In a time when so many churches are departing from the teachings of the Bible, it has been refreshing to see the stand for Scriptural Truth that is being made by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and Lutheran Church–Canada,” said ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach. “We agree on the essentials of the Faith, and share a common desire to evangelize North America with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The LCMS’ President Matthew Harrison had a similar perspective. “In these trying times for global Christianity, we were joyously surprised and deeply heartened to learn of ACNA and its struggle to be faithful to the New Testament and historic Christian faith,” he said. “By God’s grace we have found real friends who have encouraged us deeply. We have been inspired by the journey of these men and women out of a church body which had abandoned the New Testament. They have sacrificed greatly, virtually all of them losing the properties of their respective congregations due to the structure of the Episcopal Church. I pray that we would be so courageous facing such difficulties.”

LCC President Robert Bugbee praised the dialogue and the growing theological consensus between confessional Lutherans and Anglicans. “These discussions have been marked by great thoroughness and theological integrity,” he noted. “Nobody reached for easy compromises, nor did anyone paper over matters that needed to be fully worked through on the basis of God’s Word. Biblical Christians throughout North America face many pressures, not only with the secularization of our society, but also because of the doctrinal decay and revisionism in much of mainline Christianity. We thank the Lord for the commitment of our Anglican friends, and ask Him to use our witness to hold Christ the Saviour out to people all around us.”

All three leaders were present for the most recent round of dialogue between the LCMS, ACNA, and LCC, held February 8-9 in St. Louis, Missouri. A major focus of the meeting was finalizing the report on the six-year dialogue so far.

A Comparison of Doctrinal Positions

The report begins by recounting the close history of Anglicans and Lutherans, suggesting that while they are not as yet “sister churches” they are “the closest ecumenical cousins in Christendom.” Moreover, the current divisions in world Anglicanism mirror similar divisions in world Lutheranism. In these situations confessional Anglicans and confessional Lutherans find they have much in common. Each tradition also has much to offer the other: “We note that while Anglicans have been famous for their patterns of prayer and devotion, Lutherans have majored in more precise doctrinal definition and theological precision,” the report states. “While both sides acknowledge the essential quality of both lex credendi and lex orandi, it may be that Lutherans can assist Anglicans toward more careful attention to the first and that Anglicans can help Lutherans to deepen their practice of the second.”

The report continues by comparing the doctrinal positions of the two traditions at length. The churches have found strong agreement on a number of areas, including the subjects of the Trinity, the person of Jesus Christ, the authority of Scripture, the creeds, original sin, justification, and good works.

The talks have also identified areas that require further discussion. In particular, the report notes that “the ordering of the ministry is the area where we have found the most work, study, and discussion needs to be done to reach a common understanding of the connection between our practices.” To that end, the paper encourages Lutherans to “consider the ways in which the ministry of the bishop (as distinct from presbyter) is already at work among them” and encourages Anglicans to consider “how recognition of the office of bishop can go hand in hand with acknowledgement of the unicity of the office instituted by Christ.” Likewise, the report identifies the diaconate as another topic that would be beneficial to discuss.

The two sides also address the topic of female ordination in the report. The LCMS and LCC both understand the ordained ministry to preclude women. The report notes that a majority within ACNA also hold this position even as they are “engaged at the present time in a consensus-seeking discussion with the minority within its midst that takes the opposite view.”

Additional doctrinal stances compared in the report include the Church, Holy Baptism, Holy Communion, Holy Absolution, and the role of Christian rulers.

Moving Forward

“When our open-ended conversations began six years ago, some of the signatories to this report approached our task with a mixture of low expectations and a certain nervousness before the unknown,” the report admits in its conclusion. “All of us are somewhat surprised to have discovered the deep common bonds between us in the Body of Christ, and to have registered the large measure of consensus that we have documented above. We regard these things that we have discovered together as a gift of the Lord, and trust Him to use our findings to His glory and to the good of the universal Church. As we commend this report to the people and clergy of ACNA, LCMS, and LCC, we encourage Lutherans and Anglicans to remember each other in prayer, embrace one another in Christian love, to encourage each other to confess Christ boldly in our ever darkening times, and to support each other in mission and outreach in faithfulness to Him who has laid the same Great Commission on us all.”

Elsewhere in the report the authors write, “We earnestly hope that these pages may be read and pondered as widely as possible by the clergy and people of our respective church bodies, not only in private but also in the setting of Bible classes, clergy and theological conferences, and other appropriate forums of Christian education.”

Lutheran Church–Canada and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod are both members of the International Lutheran Council, a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies.
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LCMS and NALC representatives meet in St. Louis

(Back Row Left to Right): Dr. Joel Lehenbauer (LCMS), Bishop John Bradosky (NALC), Rev. Larry Vogel (LCMS). (Front Row Left to Right): Rev. John Pless (LCMS), Dr. Albert Collver (LCMS), Rev. Mark Chavez (NALC), Rev. Paull Spring (NALC), Rev. David Wendel (NALC)
(Back Row Left to Right): Dr. Joel Lehenbauer (LCMS), Bishop John Bradosky (NALC), Rev. Larry Vogel (LCMS). (Front Row Left to Right): Rev. John Pless (LCMS), Dr. Albert Collver (LCMS), Rev. Mark Chavez (NALC), Rev. Paull Spring (NALC), Rev. David Wendel (NALC)

USA – Representatives of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and the North American Lutheran Church met September 9-10, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri to continue their bi-annual consultations. The series of meetings began December 2011, at the invitation of President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS as the church bodies seek greater understanding of the other church, ways that there may be cooperation in externals, and be mutually supportive, in spite of differences that exist. A representative of Lutheran Church–Canada normally participates in the meetings as well.

This consultation was the second meeting focusing on Holy Scripture. Four questions were presented and discussed: How did the Bible get here? What kind of book is the Bible? Which method is most suitable for interpreting the Bible? What is the proper use of the Bible?

In addition to presentation of church body reports, other areas of common concern were discussed, including the recent Supreme Court Obergefell decision in the United States, the challenge to marriage in North America, and the response to the persecution of Christians today.

The representatives will meet again in March 2016.

Representing the LCMS were the Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations-Assistant to the President; the Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, Executive Director of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations; the Rev. John Pless, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne; the Rev. Larry Vogel, Associate Director of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations.

Representing the NALC were the Rev. John Bradosky, Bishop; the Rev. Paull Spring, Bishop Emeritus; the Rev. Mark Chavez, General Secretary; the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.

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Oromo Christians hold international conference in Winnipeg

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An Oromo choir sings at the 2015 United Oromo Evangelical Churches conference in Winnipeg.

CANADA – Downtown Winnipeg was buzzing July 24-26, 2015 as Lutheran Church of the Redeemer played host to the 20th annual international Conference of United Oromo Evangelical Churches (UOEC). The event brought together delegates not only from across Canada and the United States, but also from across the globe with representatives from England, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Kenya, and Australia.

A major focus of the business of the clergy portion of the meeting dealt with building further unity among the various Oromo congregations represented, especially in the face of the liberal swing concerning human sexuality in many European and North American Lutheran Church bodies.

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Central District President Thomas Prachar welcomes delegates to Winnipeg on behalf of Lutheran Church–Canada.

Central District President Thomas Prachar brought greetings to the UOEC on behalf of Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) President Robert Bugbee, speaking both to the pastors’ meeting on July 23 as well as to the larger assembly of delegates on July 25. Rev. Todd Hoeffs also welcomed the delegates on behalf of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer as well as LCC’s Red River Circuit, which aided the conference with prayer, volunteer, and financial support.

Rev. Dr. Gemechis Olana of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) was persuaded to continue on for an additional year as president of the UOEC. Lutheran Church–Canada’s own Rev. Assefa Aredo—the first graduate of LCC’s Pastors with Alternate Training program—was elected to serve on the Canadian Board of the UOEC along with two other delegates, one from Winnipeg and the other from Toronto. The Canadian Board coordinates outreach and mission planning among the Oromo diaspora within Canada.

The event came to a close Sunday July 26 with a joint English-Oromo worship, with estimates of more than 300 people in attendance.

“It was a wonderful conference,” said Rev. Aredo. “I want to say a big thank-you to all the volunteers from the Red River Circuit that helped to make it possible.” UOEC President Olana also expressed thanks on behalf of the UOEC board for all the support which LCC has provided to the various Oromo congregations and missions in Canada. This positive interaction, Rev. Aredo relates, has continued to spark interest in both LCC and Confessional Lutheranism among the scattered Oromo Churches around the globe.

The history of the UOEC is in many ways one of diaspora. From the 1970s on, thousands of Oromo people left Ethiopia to avoid persecution, political instability, and economic difficulties. As Oromo people took up residence in other nations, they began to form congregations and fellowships, many of which have since affiliated with various Lutheran denominations. In 1998, these congregations and fellowships founded the United Oromo Evangelical Churches as a way of unifying Oromo Christians living in diaspora across the globe.

While the UOEC is interdenominational in scope, many affiliated congregations are members of or have friendly relations with such churches of the International Lutheran Council as The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and Lutheran Church–Canada.

The 21st UOEC Conference will take place in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2016.

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First graduating class of pastors for Mozambican Lutherans

Mozambique’s newly ordained pastors pose with TEE instructors Rev. Carlos Winterle (back left) and Rev. André Plamer (back right).
Mozambique’s newly ordained pastors pose with TEE instructors Rev. Carlos Winterle (back left) and Rev. André Plamer (back right).

MOZAMBIQUE – Mozambican Lutherans celebrated a major milestone on August 9, 2015, as Concordia Lutheran Church– Mozambique celebrated its first graduating class of eight pastors. The event drew significant local and national attention: more than a thousand people gathered in the Vila de Sena for the ordinations, including local dignitaries, and national television gave ten minutes of coverage to the event. Special church dignitaries in attendance included President Egon Kopereck of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (IELB) and Bishop Dieter Reinstorf of the Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa (FELSISA).

More than a thousand people march through the Vila de Sena on the way to the ordination of Mozambique’s first Lutheran pastors.
More than a thousand people march through the Vila de Sena on the way to the ordination of Mozambique’s first Lutheran pastors.

The CLCM is a young church body, and prior to this year’s graduating class had no pastors of its own. Instead, ministry in the region was overseen by those studying for by the. In 2014, the students received certification as deacons in preparation for their 2015 ordinations. Their ordination marks the end of five years of study through the Theological Education by Extension (TEE) program, an initiative of the IELB.

More than a thousand people march through the Vila de Sena on the way to the ordination of Mozambique’s first Lutheran pastors.
More than a thousand people march through the Vila de Sena on the way to the ordination of Mozambique’s first Lutheran pastors.

The ordination of the new pastors could not come soon enough, as the MLC continues to grow quickly (visiting professors in the TEE program were sometimes called on to conduct hundreds of baptisms at a time). Already a new class of students is beginning studies through the TEE program—and the class size has grown to fifteen.

In 2014, mission developments in Mozambique took another step forward as partners in the region signed a new Memorandum of Understanding on the TEE program. Signatories included the IELB, the current TEE students, the Kuwangisana Organization, the Kapasseni Project, FELSISA, and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). The MOU calls for the construction of a permanent seminary building: the Concordia Lutheran Center.

Lutheran missions in Mozambique grew out of the work of retired Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) pastor Rev. Joseph Alfazema and his wife Perpetua. Their work resulted in the creation of the Kapasseni Project, an LCC listed service organization that continues to support missions in Mozambique.

LCC, FELSISA, the LCMS, and IELB are all member churches of the International Lutheran Council.

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International Lutheran conference addresses the challenges of “Post-Christian” society

North European and North American churches plan to share theological resources.

Participants at 2015's Theological Commission conference in Germany.
Participants at 2015’s Theological Commission conference in Germany.

GERMANY – Following an invitation from the Commission on Theology (CT) of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (SELK), representatives of various commissions on theology from Lutheran churches in Europe and North America met in Oberursel, Germany March 4-5, 2015. This meeting served the purpose of exchanging information about the proceedings and results of theological endeavours facing the challenges in—for the most part—post-Christian societies in the North Atlantic part of the world. Thus, the first day of the conference was filled with reports delivered by the participants, who hold a confessional Lutheran position. In the evening the conference participated in the Lenten service held at St. John’s church, Oberursel (SELK).

On the second day SELK’s Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt (SELK) led Matins. It was followed by a presentation on “The Relationship of Church and State as Reflected in the Understanding of Marriage,” given by Dr. Werner Klän, professor of systematic theology at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Oberursel. Based on preparatory papers and a document only recently issued by the SELK Commission on Theology, Klän addressed the biblical and confessional understanding of marriage and the church wedding, especially with regard to the German situation since the 19th century. He pointed out that, if the state would revoke the privilege and precedence of marriage currently guaranteed in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany, compared to other forms of living together, then churches would have to restate the basic biblical assumptions underlying matrimony, the question of establishing ecclesial jurisdiction concerning marriage, and so forth.

The discussion following the presentation identified similarities and differences for Lutherans in other nations. All agreed that the classical biblical, Lutheran understanding of marriage is being challenged in many ways, and that solutions to these challenges cannot be found easily. The topic of same-sex marriage legislation was of particular discussion, with emphases placed on the crisis of gender identity as well as the status and function of the legal protection of matrimony.

Discussions at the 2015 Theological Commission conference in Germany.
Discussions at the 2015 Theological Commission conference in Germany.

Participants in the conference agreed that the meeting contributed to discovering the common confessional grounds shared by the various church bodies, the similarity of challenges confronting them, and the diversity of contexts in which these churches exist. Participants decided to share as many theological documents as possible from their respective church bodies with the others, in order to communicate the results of theological research addressing the crucial questions of our time and day from a Lutheran point of view.

There was general support for plans to hold a second meeting in about three years’ time. Participants wished to have more time for discussion at the next meeting, and suggested future issues for consideration, including the “two realms”, ”natural law”, Luther’s position on Beruf/vocation, Islam, and mission. The CT of the SELK was asked to organize such a meeting, and Bishop Voigt agreed that the SELK would host such a follow-up conference.

Participants at the 2015 meeting included representatives from Germany, Sweden, Latvia, Russia, the Czech Republic, Finland, England, Canada, and the United States of America. Church bodies represented included the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (SELK), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Baden (ELKib), the Mission Province in Sweden, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (LELB), the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria (ELCI), the Silesian Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Augsburg Confession (SCEAV), the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England (ELCE), Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC), and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS).

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Adapted from a report by Dr. Werner Klan, March 3, 2015

Mozambique’s Lutherans eager for first ordinations

Mozambique’s TEE students (all in blue shirts) pose with Kapasseni Project founder Rev. Joseph Alfazema (back row, far left) as well as TEE instructors Rev. Carlos Walter Winterle (South Africa: back-row, second-from-left) and André Plamer (Brazil: front row, far right).
Mozambique’s TEE students (all in blue shirts) pose with Kapasseni Project founder Rev. Joseph Alfazema (back row, far left) as well as TEE instructors Rev. Carlos Walter Winterle (South Africa: back-row, second-from-left) and Rev. André Plamer (Brazil: front row, far right). (Photo: pastorwinterle.blogspot.ca)

MOZAMBIQUE – Thanks to the work of numerous partners, Lutheran missions in Mozambique continue to flourish. Three new congregations have been established in the past year, with more than 100 people attending the first service in each new village.

The Mozambique Lutheran Church has no pastors of its own, so ministry is overseen by eight local men preparing for ministry. These men are all students in the Theological Education by Extension (TEE) program, and recently received the certification as deacons after completing their most recent round of intensive studies in July. The TEE program is organized by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (IELB), and brings instructors from other countries to offer theological education in Mozambique. The eight students will complete their studies in 2015 and be ordained to pastoral ministry the same year.

The day of their ordination cannot come soon enough: in 2012, one Brazilian pastor reported being called upon to perform nearly 300 baptisms while visiting Mozambique as a TEE instructor. The newly appointed deacons are now allowed to perform baptisms in addition their current duties (which include leading services, preaching, teaching, and counseling). But even as these students prepare for ordination, plans are underway for the beginning of a new TEE class of students. By July of this year, twenty students had already enrolled for the new class, set to begin in 2015. There are also plans for the construction of a new building, the Concordia Lutheran Center, to continue theological education in the future.

These developments in Mozambique will be guided through a new Memorandum of Understanding (Addendum) signed this past July by partners in the TEE program: the IELB, the current TEE students, the Kuwangisana Organization, the Kapasseni Project, the Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa, and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

Lutheran missions in Mozambique grew out of the work of retired Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) pastor Rev. Joseph Alfazema and his wife Perpetua. Their work resulted in the creation of the Kapasseni Project, an LCC listed service organization that continues to support missions in Mozambique.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil, the Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, and Lutheran Church–Canada are all members of the International Lutheran Council.

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Dialogue between LCMS, LCC, and NALC continues in Canada

Rev. Phil Gagnon (NALC Provisional Dean for Canada); Rev. Larry Vogel (Associate Executive Secretary of the LCMS' CTCR); Rev. Mark Chavez (NALC General Secretary); Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee (LCC President); Rev. Dr. David Wendel (NALC Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism); Rev. Warren Hamp (Chairman of LCC's CTCR); Rev. Thomas Prachar (LCC Central District President).
Rev. Phil Gagnon (NALC Provisional Dean for Canada); Rev. Larry Vogel (Associate Executive Secretary of the LCMS’ CTCR); Rev. Mark Chavez (NALC General Secretary); Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee (LCC President); Rev. Dr. David Wendel (NALC Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism); Rev. Warren Hamp (Chairman of LCC’s CTCR); Rev. Thomas Prachar (LCC Central District President).

WINNIPEG – Representatives of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), and Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC) met at LCC’s synodical headquarters in Winnipeg June 24-25. This is the first time the meetings have taken place in Canada.

“These consultations have happened twice each year since they began at the invitation of LCMS President Matthew Harrison in late 2011,” explained Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee, LCC President and host for this round of meetings. Both days began with morning devotions in the office chapel, after which participants provided updates from their churches and discussed in detail what a distinctively Lutheran understanding of and approach to mission work should include.

A progress report was provided on a planned book of new essays on Law and Gospel, including contributors from various Lutheran church bodies. In addition, details for an upcoming second international “Confessional Lutheran Leadership Conference”—hosted by the LCMS—were shared. The event will take place in Wittenberg, Germany in May 2015.

In addition to President Bugbee, LCC was represented by Rev. Warren Hamp, Chairman of the LCC’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) and by Central District President Thomas Prachar. NALC participants included Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ecumenism and Ministry; Pastor Mark Chavez, General Secretary; and Rev. Phil Gagnon, NALC Provisional Dean for Canada. NALC Bishop John Bradosky joined the group briefly at the close of the first day. The LCMS was represented by Rev. Larry Vogel, Associate Executive Secretary of their CTCR.

“We’ll meet again toward the end of this year to evaluate where we’ve been in the initial three years of dialogue and to decide on the way forward,” commented President Bugbee. “Though the participating churches have disagreements in some significant areas, there is a high level of trust and an ability both to talk and to listen despite these challenges. I do thank God for common convictions about the Holy Scripture as the written Word of God, and the urgency in proclaiming Christ, the Saviour of sinners, as the primary mission of the church.”

The next round of dialogues will be hosted by NALC, and is set to be held December 15-16 in Sarasota, Florida.

Lutheran Church–Canada and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod are both member churches of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). President Robert Bugbee serves as Vice-Chairman of the ILC’s Executive Committee.

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Files from The Canadian Lutheran.

LCC meets in convention, reelects President Bugbee

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President Robert Bugbee addresses the convention. (Photo: Gabor Gasztonyi)

VANCOUVER – From June 6-9, Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) held its triennial national convention on the campus of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. The event saw lay and clergy representatives from across the nation gather together to conduct the business of the church, during which time President Robert Bugbee was acclaimed to another term without opposition.

Reflecting on the election, President Bugbee noted that, when he first entered the ministry years ago, he “never expected to serve as President of Synod, an honor which has been bestowed on me three times by our convention.” “I deeply appreciate your kindness, dear brothers and sisters,” he went on to say. “I cannot say that I understand it exactly, and I’m not even sure I agree with the action you’ve taken in re-electing me, but I do deeply appreciate it. And I am willing once again to embrace it.”

The opening worship service, held at Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver.
The opening worship service, held at Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver. (Photo: Gabor Gasztonyi)

Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee was first elected President of Lutheran Church–Canada in 2008. He was acclaimed without opposition to a second term in 2011. Since 2010, President Bugbee has also served as Vice-Chairman of the International Lutheran Council, a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies of which LCC is a member.

“In some small way, I hope that the task God is entrusting to me for the coming three years will help our pastors and our people see the glory in the Gospel, and in the work you share in Alfalfa Junction, or whatever your town happens to be called,” he continued. “Thanks again for the honour you have done me with this election. God in Christ pour out on you all His joy and grace and blessing!”

Rev. Nolan Astley was reelected to serve as Vice President for the East District and Rev. Thomas Kruesel was reelected to serve as Vice President for the ABC District. Rev. Mark L. Smith was newly elected as Vice President for the Central District, succeeding Rev. Rudy Pastucha. Rev. Astley will serve as First Vice President, Rev. Kruesel as Second Vice President, and Rev. Smith as Third Vice President.

2014-logo-bannerThe convention gathered around the theme “Come to Him who answers prayer” (Psalm 65:2). Rev. Kurt Reinhardt of Kurtzville, Ontario served as one of the convention’s essayists, giving a presentation over two days entitled “As Dear Children Ask Their Dear Father.”

Also serving as an essayist for the convention was Deacon Jennifer Shack, who presented on the history and biblical foundation of the diaconate in Lutheran Church–Canada. The topic was particularly relevant, as a number of resolutions adopted by the convention focused on the diaconate. The convention voted June 7 to make provision for deacons to serve on Synod’s boards, commissions and committees. On June 8, the convention adopted a resolution “to study and provide for diaconal voting at Synod and District convention.” Currently LCC’s voting structure allows for equal pastoral/lay representation at convention, but does not make allowance for deacons to vote.

LCC was pleased to receive a number of international guests during the convention, including President Chul-Hwan Kim of the Lutheran Church in Korea, President Vannarith Chhim of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cambodia, Bishop David Altus of the Lutheran Church of Australia, President Matthew Harrison of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, and Rev. Dr. David Wendel of the North American Lutheran Church. The convention also welcomed letters of greeting from the Anglican Network in Canada, as well as Lutheran church bodies from India, Japan, Chile, England, Germany, and Ukraine.

Lutheran Church–Canada has 65,000 members in more than 300 congregations across the nation, served by approximately 250 active pastors and 95 deacons.

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Nicaraguan church signs agreement with LCMS and LCC

Rev. Dr. Albert Collver and President Marvin Donaire sign the protocol agreement.
Rev. Dr. Albert Collver and President Marvin Donaire sign the protocol agreement.

NICARAGUA – The Iglesia Luterana Sínodo de Nicaragua (ILSN) and Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) signed a protocol agreement with The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) on May 13 in Chinendega, Nicaragua. The agreement will allow the three churches to better coordinate their mission work together in Nicaragua, as well as in mission areas in Honduras and Costa Rica.

Representing the ILSN at the signing was its President, Rev. Marvin Donaire. Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel, Executive for Missions and Social Ministry, represented Lutheran Church–Canada while the LCMS was represented by Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III, Director of Church Relations and Regional Operations.

Lutheran Church–Canada’s President, Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee, hailed the signing. “This agreement among [the] Missouri Synod, LCC, and ILSN is a huge encouragement to all of us who care about a faithful Lutheran presence and outreach in Central America,” he said. “When partners refrain from duplicating each other’s efforts in a given country, but instead coordinate resources and consult intentionally, the capacity of each partner is deepened greatly. I thank God for the intensified cooperation between LCMS and LCC in recent years, and hope this Nicaraguan agreement will be an inspiration to other biblical Lutheran churches to work together in many parts of the world.”

The ILSN was born out of the mission work of Lutheran Church–Canada. LCC began mission work in Nicaragua in the spring of 1998. Just over ten years later, the ILSN was officially founded. Today the church has 23 congregations, 12 pastors, 12 vicars, 36 deaconesses, and about 1,800 members. It also has four missions, two church plants in Honduras and two mission plants in Costa Rica.

While LCC enjoys altar-and-pulpit fellowship with the ILSN, the LCMS and ILSN have never officially achieved the same level of partnership at the church-level. “Eventually, the LCMS will take a similar action to the LCC,” Rev. Dr. Collver explained. “In the meantime, as a mission start of an LCMS partner church with whom the LCMS is cooperating in the mission work, the LCMS is in de facto altar and pulpit fellowship, meaning that the ILSN is regarded for fellowship purposes as if it were an LCMS mission start.”

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With files from the LCMS Reporter