By Mathew Block
WITTENBERG, Germany — On Feb. 24, the Rev. Dr. Wilhem Weber was installed as managing director of the International Lutheran Center at the Old Latin School (OLS) in Wittenberg, Germany. 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 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 too 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.’”
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 the Rev. Dr. Hans-Jörg Voigt and the Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III. Voigt is bishop of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) in Germany and chairman of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). Collver is general secretary of the ILC, senior managing director of the International Lutheran Center and director of Church Relations for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS).
From Macedonia to Wittenberg
The title of Weber’s sermon for the installation was “From Macedonia to Wittenberg,” drawing on Acts 16:6–15, in which St. Paul has a vision of a man from Macedonia who comes and begs him to come to them.
Now, 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, Weber 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.”
Weber’s work with the International Lutheran Center will serve as a vehicle for Christian outreach to the heartland of the Reformation. It “gives confessional Lutherans a chance to bring the pure Gospel anew to Germany, Europe and … 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.”
The FELSISA deputy bishop was one of a number of African guests present for the 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.
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.”
“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.”
The 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.
“This installation tells us how Lutherans are serious about their liturgy and placing ministers in their office according to Christ’s Word,” Amanu 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 LCMS, the SELK and Concordia Publishing House.
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Mathew Block (email@example.com) serves as communications manager for the International Lutheran Council.
Posted Feb. 27, 2019