By Mathew Block
The International Lutheran Council (ILC), an association of confessional Lutheran church bodies, held its 2022 World Conference Sept. 13–16 in Kisumu, Kenya.
The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), attended and preached for the closing service on Sept. 16. He also reported on the International Lutheran Center at the Old Latin School in Wittenberg, Germany, which is a joint project of the LCMS, Germany’s Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) and the ILC.
A new chairman
The Rev. Dr. Juhana Pohjola, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, was acclaimed without opposition as the new chairman of the ILC, replacing outgoing chairman Rev. Dr. Hans-Jörg Voigt of the SELK. Voigt, who announced earlier in the conference that he would not be standing for reelection, served as ILC chairman from 2010 to 2022.
Pohjola received worldwide media attention in 2021 after Finland’s prosecutor general charged him and Dr. Päivi Räsänen, a Finnish member of Parliament, with hate crimes for the 2004 publication of a booklet articulating historic Christian teaching on human sexuality. While the two were acquitted in early 2022, Finland’s prosecutor general has since appealed.
New members welcomed
The conference brought together church leaders representing 55 church bodies from around the world. The Christian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bolivia and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia were accepted as full ILC members, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Panama was accepted as an associate member.
In addition, since the last World Conference in 2018, the ILC board has accepted 10 new observer members, all from Africa: the Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church in Burundi, the Lutheran Church in Africa—Burundi Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in East Congo, the Evangelical Lutheran Conference and Ministerium of Kenya, the Lutheran Church in Africa—Côte d’Ivoire, the Confessional Lutheran Church—Malawi Synod, the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Congregation in Rwanda and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Sudan and Sudan. The Lake Tanganyika Diocese and the South East of Lake Victoria Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania make up the remaining two new observer members (accepted as “recognized organizations”).
Liturgy and ecumenical relations
The conference theme was “Liturgy and Culture: How Worship Shapes Our Life Together and Why We Do What We Do.” Serving as essayists were Pohjola; the Rev. Dr. Naomichi Masaki, director of the Ph.D. in Theological Studies program at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne; and the Rev. Dr. Alexey Streltsov of the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Based on the presentations and discussion, the conference adopted a Summary Statement on Liturgy and Culture and decided to produce a statement rejecting virtual Communion. The conference received a report on the results of the ILC’s recent discussions with the Roman Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU). In light of this report, and at the written recommendation of Cardinal Kurt Koch of the PCPCU and outgoing ILC Chairman Voigt, the conference adopted a resolution calling for continued ecumenical conversations with the Roman Catholic Church in the leadup to the 500th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession in 2030.
Mathew Block (firstname.lastname@example.org) is manager of communications for the ILC.
Posted Nov. 3, 2022