ILC becomes part-owner of Wittenberg’s International Lutheran Center

The International Lutheran Center at the Old Latin School in Wittenberg (right) across from St. Mary’s Church.

GERMANY – The International Lutheran Council (ILC) has become a part-owner of the International Lutheran Society of Wittenberg (ILSW), and with it, the International Lutheran Center at the Old Latin School (OLS) in Wittenberg.

The new partnership is a natural development in the relationship between the ILC and the ILSW’s International Lutheran Center, as the ILC has long supported the work of the ILSW, including highlighting important news from the center (like the installation of Dr. Wilhelm Weber as Managing Director) and hosting ILC events at the site (including classes in the Lutheran Leadership Development Program).

“It’s a joy to enter into this new relationship with the ILSW,” said Darin Storkson, Interim General Secretary of the ILC. “We look forward to deepening our relationship with the International Lutheran Center at the Old Latin School in Wittenberg, as it continues its vital ministry of Gospel proclamation in the region, as well as offering accommodations and Reformation education to visitors.”

The International Lutheran Center at the Old Latin School provides a place for people to learn, grow, study, meet, retreat, and experience the Gospel in Wittenberg, the birthplace of the Reformation. The center stands across from St. Mary’s Church, where Martin Luther and other reformers regularly preached. The OLS was built in 1564 as a school for boys.

The OLS was founded as a joint project that included The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (SELK). The International Lutheran Council has now purchased an interest equal to that of the LCMS, making the ILC a full partner in the project with SELK and the LCMS.

For more information on the International Lutheran Center at the Old Latin School, or to book accommodations, visit www.oldlatinschool.org.

You can support mission outreach in Wittenberg through the International Lutheran Council through online giving. Just select “Wittenberg Outreach.” You can also donate by mail:

International Lutheran Council
P.O. Box 18775
St. Louis, MO 63118

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Installation of Dr. Weber in Wittenberg a ‘global event’

Rev. Dr. Wlhelm Weber is installed by Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt and Rev. Dr. Albert Collver.
Rev. Dr. Wilhelm Weber

GERMANY – On February 24, 2019, Rev. Dr. Wilhem Weber was installed as Managing Director of the International Lutheran Center at the Old Latin School in Wittenberg. The event was attended by guests from around the world, with Africa especially well-represented.

“I am very grateful that on this, my special day, you are here as well,” said Dr. Weber to those gathered for the installation. “Just like Paul we are always tempted to say ‘No, I’m too young, or I’m too this, or I’m to that.’ We need the encouragement of the brothers. That is why we take hands and say, ‘Praise the Lord. We will do this together because He has joined us, not just as acquaintances but as members of the same family—God’s family, His people.’”

Dr. Weber has formerly served both as Bishop of the Lutheran Church in South Africa (LCSA and as Rector of Lutheran Theological Seminary in Pretoria.

The installation service was conducted by Rev. Dr. Hans-Jörg Voigt and Rev. Dr. Albert Collver. Dr. Voigt is Bishop of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) in Germany and Chairman of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). Dr. Collver is General Secretary of the ILC and Senior Managing Director of Wittenberg’s International Lutheran Center.

From Macedonia to Wittenberg

Dr. Weber’s sermon for the installation was entitled “From Macedonia to Wittenberg,” drawing on Acts 16:6-15. In that passage, St. Paul has a vision in which a man from Macedonia comes and begs him to come to them.

Now, Dr. Weber said, “we come here to Wittenberg, and we are astonished to see [church] buildings not much filled with life. It is a great concern, but it also shows the great responsibility we have.”

“The Gospel was blooming in all its brightness” long ago in Germany, he said. “Look what they’ve got now. Perhaps wealth, yes. But what about that which really makes the heart come to rest? Have they got that? We need to pray that God will give grace.”

Dr. Weber’s work with the International Lutheran Center will serve as a vehicle for Christian outreach to return to the heartland of the Reformation. It “gives Confessional Lutherans a chance to bring the pure Gospel anew to Germany, Europe, and to the world,” noted Deputy Bishop Helmut Paul of the Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa (FELSISA). “It is a great opportunity and yet also a great responsibility.”

Dr. Weber (back left) poses with ILC General Secretary Al Collver (front center) and participants in the Lutheran Leadership Development Program.

The FELSISA deputy bishop was one of a number of African guests present for Dr. Weber’s installation, with Lutheran leaders from Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, South Africa, and Tanzania all in Wittenberg for the current round of classes in the Lutheran Leadership Development Program.

Dr. Weber welcomed these guests, explaining that the work of the International Lutheran Center, like the work of the Church more generally, is something done in partnership with others. “[God] does not only work with individuals like Paul,” he said. “He also works with the communion of saints, the congregation of believers.”

“That’s what you are,” he continued. “God wants us to work together in this…. We are not to just stay alone, but rather to seek the communion of the faithful—and, together, to do what God has entrusted to us: namely, be faithful witnesses to Him.”

His words were well-received. “The installation of Rev. Dr. Weber provides inspiration and shows how the Lord preserves a remnant in a dying world,” said Bishop Emmanuel Makala of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania’s South East of Lake Victoria Diocese. “It was a joy to see churches from the International Lutheran Council participating, making the installation an event for global Lutheranism and not for Germany alone.”

Rev. Teshome Amanu, General Secretary of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, also expressed appreciation for the clear Lutheran identity visible in the rite of installation itself. “This installation tells us how Lutherans are serious about their liturgy and placing ministers in their office according to Christ’s Word,” he said. “It is important for me that ministers receive the mandate from Christ Himself, and they are expected to be faithful to the One who called and mandated them.”

The International Lutheran Center is a joint project of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, Germany’s Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church, and Concordia Publishing House.

You can support mission outreach in Wittenberg through the International Lutheran Council through online giving. Just select “Wittenberg Outreach.” You can also donate by mail:

International Lutheran Council
PO Box 18775
St. Louis, MO 63118

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From one Wittenberg to Another – Farewell to Kristen Lange

The Old Latin School’s Outgoing Managing Director Kristin Lange and her successor Rev. Dr. Wilhelm Weber.

GERMANY – A farewell service was held on Sunday, April 29, 2018 for Kristin Lange, the Managing Director of the Old Latin School (OLS) in Wittenberg, Germany. The OLS is a joint project of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (SELK). After her impending wedding Kristin Lange will be moving to Wittenberg in South Africa.

The processional at the conclusion of the farewell service for Kristin Lange.

Rev. Dr. Michael Kumm, chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Lutheran Wittenberg Society (ILSW) that operates the OLS, and Rev. Dr. Albert Collver III, who supervised Lange’s work, thanked her and with prayer and benediction bade her farewell in a service at the city church of St. Mary. Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt of the SELK served as preacher for the festival service. He noted was “Cantate Sunday” in the church year, and that song is used to express both joy and sadness, spiritual melody being a source of both consolation and joy.  Kristin’s departure likewise brings both joy and sadness.

The intercessions in the service were offered by Mr. Ulrich Schroeder of Dresden, the business manager of the ILSW.

Following the church service, a festive reception in Wittenberg’s Old City Hall followed. A number of guests representing other churches brought greetings, including Lange’s designated successor, Rev. Dr. Wilhelm Weber of South Africa. Dr. Weber is not yet able to begin his work at the OLS as he is still awaiting  a work permit to be granted by the German authorities. Both Dr. Collver and Bishop Voigt expressed their hope that a visa for Dr. Weber will be granted in June of this year.

At the end of the event, outgoing Managing Director Kristin Lange spoke of her gratitude for the numerous contacts and friendship she entered into during her work in Wittenberg and all over Germany. She promised not to forget them.

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Shaping Confessional Lutheranism in the 21st Century: ILC World Seminaries Conference begins

 

Participants in the 2016 World Seminaries Conference visit in the Castle Church in Wittenberg.
Participants in the 2016 World Seminaries Conference visit at the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

GERMANY – The Sixth World Seminaries Conference of the International Lutheran Council (ILC) opened Tuesday, October 11, 2016 in Wittenberg, Germany. Representatives from more than 30 ILC churches from all world regions are in attendance. In addition, nearly 30 guests representing other church bodies and institutions are present for the conference, which runs through the end of Thursday, October 13.

The choice of Wittenberg as the site of this year’s conference on theological education is an apt one. Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon were both professors at the University of Wittenberg, and it was in this educational environment that they developed many of the teachings of the Lutheran Reformation.

Dr. Werner Klän addresses the convention.
Dr. Werner Klän addresses the convention.

The theme for this year’s gathering is “Shaping Confessional Lutheranism for the 21st Century: The Impact of the Lutheran Reformation on Mission, Worship, and Worldview.” Professor Dr. Werner Klän, Rector of the Lutherische Theologische Hochschule (Oberursel, Germany), gave a keynote address on the conference theme Tuesday morning, following a service of Matins. “In all these areas, like mission, worship, and worldview, the witness of the Lutheran Reformation must be promulgated untiringly and without fear,” he said. “That is why with gratitude I realize that we share a multitude of points of view amongst our partner churches throughout the ILC, concerning the tasks that lie ahead for confessional Lutheran churches in post-modern and in some parts of the world (like Europe, as it seems to me) even post-Christian times.”

“There can be no doubt,” he continued, “that as long as we are churches bound to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions and intend to remain so, we will be aware that effectiveness is not ours but the Holy Spirit’s, through God’s Word and the sacraments. It is and will be Him who creates, preserves, and strengthens faith and brings people from all races, cultures, social groups, societies, and nations to salvation.”

Dr. Andrew Pfeiffer discusses the Reformation's influence on worship.
Dr. Andrew Pfeiffer discusses the Reformation’s influence on worship.

The three areas referenced in Dr. Klän’s presentation—mission, worship, and worldview—are being developed in additional detail through the keynote addresses of three other speakers throughout the conference. Rev. Dr. Andrew Pfeiffer, Head of the School of Pastoral Studies at Australian Lutheran College (Adelaide, Australia), was the first to present, discussing the impact of the Lutheran Reformation on worship. Rev. Roberto Bustamante, Professor of New Testament at Seminario Concordio (Buenos Aires, Argentina), provided a response.

Participants also broke into small groups to discuss the challenges and opportunites facing theological education in their world regions.

The business of the day concluded with Vespers, held in the Castle Church of Wittenberg, where tradition states Martin Luther once nailed the 95 Theses to the church door. Both Luther and Philip Melanchthon lie buried in the Castle Church. A walking tour of Wittenberg followed Vespers.

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Wittenberg’s “Old Latin School” installs new managing director

Present and former directors of the Wittenberg Project: Rev. David Mahsman, Kristin Lange, and Rev. Dr. Wilhelm Torgerson.
Present and former directors of the Wittenberg Project: Rev. David Mahsman, Kristin Lange, and Rev. Dr. Wilhelm Torgerson.

Germany – The International Lutheran Study and Visitors’ Center in Wittenberg (also known as the “Old Latin School”) bid a formal farewell to its retiring Managing Director and installed his successor in a festival service on Sunday, August 14.

The service, held at the Town Church of St. Mary, the “mother church of the Reformation,” marked the retirement of Rev. David Mahsman, a missionary of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), who served seven years in the position. During Rev. Mahsman’s tenure, the rebuilding of the “Old Latin School” (originally built in 1567) was completed, and the new center dedicated in May 2015. Rev. Mahsman and his wife, Lois, return to the United States around September 1 to live in St. Louis, their former home before moving to Germany.

The sign at the Old Latin School, noting the center's relationship with the International Lutheran Council.
The sign at the Old Latin School, noting the center’s relationship with the International Lutheran Council.

The service included the formal induction of Kristin Lange as the new Managing Director for the Center. Lange, who hails from Kansas, studied at the Humboldt University in Berlin and works effectively in both English and German. Conducting the formal farewell and induction ceremony was Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, the LCMS Assistant to the President for Church Relations. “The focus of the Managing Director’s work will obviously change now,” commented Dr. Collver, “since the building is complete. Now comes the task of shaping the Old Latin School into an active gathering point for confessional Lutherans to meet, study, and get to know church partners from around the world.” Dr. Collver went on to note that the International Lutheran Council (ILC), a worldwide association of confessional Lutheran churches, is working to intensify its ties with the Old Latin School—a relationship indicated clearly on the building’s signage.

Participants in the in the induction service. (Back row: Markus Fischer, Armin Wenz, Dr. Wilhelm Torgerson, Thomas Junker, Bishop Emeritus Dr. Jobst Schöne. Front row: Bishop Voigt, David Mahsman, Kristin Lange, Dr. Albert Collver, President Bugbee
Participants in the in the induction service. Back row: Markus Fischer, Armin Wenz, Dr. Wilhelm Torgerson, Thomas Junker, and Bishop Emeritus Dr. Jobst Schöne. Front row: Bishop Voigt, David Mahsman, Kristin Lange, Dr. Albert Collver, and President Robert Bugbee.
The “mother church of the Reformation” in Luther’s Wittenberg glows in the afternoon sunshine on the day of the ILSW induction festival
The “mother church of the Reformation” in Luther’s Wittenberg glows in the afternoon sunshine on the day of the ILSW induction festival

Serving as officiant for the service was Rev. Dr. Hans-Jörg Voigt, Bishop of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (SELK) and Chairman of the ILC. The SELK and LCMS have been sponsoring churches for the Old Latin School project since its inception. Bishop Voigt was assisted at the worship by SELK pastors from parishes near Wittenberg, as well as by Rev. Dr. Wilhelm Torgerson, who served as the original project director prior to Mahsman’s arrival. Preacher for the service was President Robert Bugbee of Lutheran Church-Canada. In his German-language sermon, President Bugbee emphasized the heartbeat of the Old Latin School’s mission: to introduce needy people to the Good News of Jesus Christ. Luther’s old Town Church reverberated with festive organ music provided by Rev. Dr. Christopher S. Ahlman, an LCMS missionary.

The Old Latin School’s prime location at Jüdenstrasse 38 is just steps away from the Town Church’s main portal. The center includes offices, hotel accommodations, a lecture hall, kitchen facilities, and a chapel. In addition, Concordia Publishing House has many materials for sale in the center’s bookstore. The new director, Kristin Lange, also has her residence in the building, which has a busy calendar going into the Reformation 500th Anniversary year in 2017.

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SELK welcomes New Director to Wittenberg

SELK representatives welcome Director Kristin Lange to Wittenberg.
SELK representatives welcome Director Kristen Lange to Wittenberg.

WITTENBERG, Germany – On April 7, representatives of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (SELK) met with the new Director of the International Lutheran Society of Wittenberg (ILSW), Kristen Lange, in Wittenberg’s Old Latin School.

Since the historic building in Wittenberg’s Old Town was restored and renovated as a study and welcome center, it began serving in its new role during the past year.  The comprehensive building phase was headed up by Rev. David Mahsman. Now, as things transition into the programming phase, Kristen Lange has assumed responsibilities as its director. The SELK works together in the ILSW with its U.S. partner, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS). The LCMS’ mission department employs Director Lange as a missionary to Germany.

Director Lange, an academically-trained linguist (in German and English), had opportunity to visit with SELK Bishop Dr. Hans-Jörg Voigt, SELK District Presidents Peter Brückmann (of Berlin) and Thomas Junker (of Weissenfels), Rev. Markus Fischer (of Trinity Lutheran Church, Leipzig, which has responsibility for Wittenberg), Ulrich Schroeder (of Dresden) and Dr. Andrea Grünhagen (of Hannover, a theological resource executive). The SELK delegation took the opportunity to get acquainted and extend a sincere welcome to Germany. Rev. Mahsman also participated in the conversation, which, in addition to information about SELK church structures and procedures, considered upgrading a preaching presence in Wittenberg, as well as public relations, outreach, and preparations for the “World Reformation Exhibition,” planned for Wittenberg as part of the 2017 Reformation anniversary.

Bishop Voigt explained to SELK-News that he is filled with gratitude every time he visits the Old Latin School. “The strong LCMS engagement, which also involved the SELK, has brought results. I wish Kristen Lange a good adjustment to Germany and the Lord’s blessing for her work.”

Translation:  Robert Bugbee

ILC prepares for 2016 World Seminary Conference

The ILC's Seminary Relations Committee plans for the 2016 World Seminary Conference to be held in Wittenberg, Germany.
The ILC’s Seminary Relations Committee plans for the 2016 World Seminary Conference, to be held in Wittenberg, Germany.

GERMANY- The Seminary Relations Committee of the International Lutheran Council (ILC) met October 6 on the campus of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Oberursel, a school of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (SELK). Committee representatives come from the various ILC world regions and include Professor Dr. Gerson Linden (São Leopoldo, Brazil) as Chairman, Professor Dr. Roland Ziegler (Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA), Professor Dr. Jin-Seop Eom (Yongin, Korea), Professor Dr. Werner Klän (Oberursel, Germany), and Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, ILC Executive Secretary (St. Louis, Missouri, USA). The meeting was scheduled to prepare for the 6th ILC World Seminary Conference, scheduled to take place next year.

The Conference will meet under the theme Shaping Confessional Lutheranism in the 21st Century: The Impact of the Lutheran Reformation on Mission, Worship, and Worldview. It is to be held October 10-14, 2016 at the “Old Latin School” in Wittenberg, which serves as a visitors’ centre for the ILC. Plans are to provide four primary lectures on the conference themes, as well as to receive reports on the state of seminary education in the various ILC world regions. In addition, international guests are expected. Planners are expecting approximately 60 participants. Academic features of the gathering will be rooted in devotions to be held throughout the conference.

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Lutherans from around world gather for conference in Wittenberg

International representatives from Lutheran churches around the globe gather and worship at the historic St. Mary’s church in Wittenberg, May 6. Church leaders from 41 countries representing 23 million Lutherans are in Wittenberg for the Conference on Confessional Leadership in the 21st Century, May 6-7. (LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford)
International representatives from Lutheran churches around the globe gather and worship at the historic St. Mary’s church in Wittenberg, May 6. Church leaders from 41 countries representing 23 million Lutherans are in Wittenberg for the Conference on Confessional Leadership in the 21st Century, May 6-7. (LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford)

WITTENBERG, Germany – Confessional Lutheran church leaders from every continent except Antarctica are discussing burgeoning churches in the Global South and East as well as challenges in the West, during the International Conference on Confessional Leadership in the 21st Century here May 6-7.

Representatives from 41 countries representing 23 million Lutherans worldwide have converged at the very cradle of the Reformation not long before 2017, when Lutherans will celebrate the Reformation’s 500th anniversary. Under the theme: Celebrating the Reformation Rightly: Remembrance, Repentance, Rejoicing, discussions are ranging from the challenges of spreading the Gospel in Western countries to its rapid growth in places like Africa, South America, the Far East and many others.

Wittenberg-2015-02“We have representatives here from Ethiopia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Cameroon, Cambodia, Malaysia, Peru, Papua New Guinea … all over the world,” said the Rev. Dr. Albert Collver III, executive secretary of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). “And yet, now the work begins for us, as we hope to reach others amid the challenges presented by post-modernity and a rise in paganism.”

Collver said the mission field in the West is a major challenge for confessional Lutherans amid a decline of Christianity in Europe and the U.S.

“As someone coming to Wittenberg for first time, it is a pleasure for me to see how it is important for our churches to be together, to make our confession known to all, particularly as we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation,” said the Rev. Dr. Wakseyoum Idosa, president of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus. “This gathering of church leaders is a sign for us to go onto the next 500 years of the Reformation. The Reformation’s message to the world is that, according to the context we are in now, we need to be faithful to the Word of God as we serve God’s people.”

The collaborative event was a coordinated effort by the ILC, the Selbständige Evangelisch Lutherische Kirche (SELK) and the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, with representatives from the North American Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also participating.

“This conference is a huge sign of the catholicity of the Lutheran church,” said SELK Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt, who also is the ILC’s chairman. “A central theme of this conference is that we confessional Lutherans remember, repent and celebrate the Reformation, and I’m very thankful to be a part of that.”

The ILC is an association of established confessional Lutheran church bodies 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 to the Lutheran Confessions contained in the Book of Concord as the true and faithful exposition of the Word of God.

The ILC executive committee meets this week in Wittenberg to discuss locating the organization’s headquarters at the recently dedicated International Lutheran Center at the Old Latin School here.

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ILC and LWF hold meetings in Luther’s Wittenberg

ILC-LWF-2013
Representatives of the ILC and the LWF meet together in Wittenberg, November 2013.

GERMANY – Executive members of the International Lutheran Council (ILC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) met together in Wittenberg, Germany from November 12-13, 2013 to discuss issues of common interest. Propst Dr. Johann Schneider (Wittenberg-Regional Bishop of the Evangelical Church in Central Germany) hosted the representatives at an opening dinner, November 12.

The LWF was represented by Rev. Martin Junge (General Secretary of the LWF), Rev. Dr. Nicholas Tai (Dean of Lutheran Theological Seminary, Hong Kong), OKR Norbert Denecke (LWF German National Committee), Rev. Dr. Kaisamari Hintikka (LWF Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Relations), and Rev. Dr. Carlos Bock (Director of LWF Department for Mission and Development). Representing the ILC were Chairman Hans-Jörg Voigt (Bishop of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany), Rev. Dr. Albert Collver (Executive Secretary of the ILC), Asia World Area Representative Rev. James Cerdeñola (President of the Lutheran Church of the Philippines), and ILC Secretary Gijsbertus van Hattem (President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium).

Of particular concern was the recent disaster in the Philippines. Each organization noted that it is encouraging its member churches to support relief efforts and pray for those affected by the typhoon. Representatives also took time to celebrate the reunification of the Lutheran Church of the Philippines. The church had previously suffered 24 years of divisions but took a historic vote to reconcile in October, 2012. The LWF and the ILC committed to “continue to encourage and to pray for the Lutheran Church of the Philippines as it continues to strengthen and grow in its unity.”

The ILC and LWF also discussed their relationship with one another, noting that 11 churches hold dual membership in the two organizations. “Both the LWF and the ILC encouraged these churches to see themselves as a bridge of understanding between these organizations,” notes the official communiqué of the meeting. Recognizing some of the differences that exist between the ILC and the LWF, representatives at the meeting also “engaged in theological discussions regarding their respective positions and agreed that future theological discussion could be beneficial.”

Other business included discussion of both the Wittenberg Project and 500th anniversary commemorations of the Reformation in 2017.

The ILC and LWF first committed to regular meetings together as part of a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2005. The next ILC-LWF meeting will be hosted by the LWF in Geneva, Switzerland in January 2015.

More information on the November 2013 meeting is available in the official communiqué.

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