Lutherans in Spain welcome new bishop

IELE Bishop José Luis de Miguel (fifth from left) and those participating in his consecration.
Rev. Miguel kneels as he is consecrated bishop of the IELE.

SPAIN – On October 9, 2021, the Spanish Evangelical Lutheran Church (Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Española – IELE) celebrated the consecration of its new bishop, Rev. José Luis de Miguel, during the church’s Annual Assembly in El Escorial.

Bishop Miguel has been a pastor in the Spanish church for four years. A worker-priest, he also serves as a health promotion technician for the Spanish Association Against Cancer. He succeeds Rev. David Warner, a missionary of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), to become the first native-born Spaniard to lead the church in Spain.

“Lutheranism has always developed in Spain through foreign missions, mainly from Argentina and the United States,” the IELE noted in a release. “The installation of the new bishop is a sign of the maturation of the Spanish Lutheran church.”

The multi-language consecration service featured involvement from churches in Finland, Portugal, and the United States, as well as from LCMS missionaries stationed in other regions. Bishop Juhana Pohjola of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland (ELMDF), President Adalberto Hiller of the Portuguese Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELP), and Fifth Vice President Christopher Esget of the LCMS all participated in the service, together with Rev. James Krikava (LCMS Eurasia Director), Rev. Joel Fritche (LCMS Dominican Republic), LCMS pastor Fred Gaede, and other church representatives.

Participants in the IELE’s 2021 Annual Assembly.

The 2021 Annual Assembly also featured the ordination and installation of a new pastor, as well as a lecture by Rev. Dr. Arthur Just of Concordia Theological Seminary (Fort Wayne, Indiana), who spoke on “Mercy in the Gospel of St. Luke.”

The IELE has four congregations and approximately 100 members. The church first began to emerge in the 1990s, when Spaniards interested in Lutheranism made contact with Lutherans in France. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina (IELA) subsequently began to send missionary pastors to Spain in 2000, followed later by missionaries from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

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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: euluthconf.org.

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