High-level visits between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the LWF, and separate deliberations on both sides, began in 1967.
The Fourth Pan-Orthodox Conference officially encouraged a global ecumenical dialogue with the LWF as early as 1968. That same year the LWF Executive Committee discussed and approved plans for participation in such a dialogue.
A thorough preparatory process led to decisions by the Orthodox in 1976 and by the Lutherans in 1977 to further develop and implement plans for dialogue by means of separate Orthodox and Lutheran meetings, which took place in 1978, 1979 and 1980.
The Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission met for the first time in Espoo, Finland, in 1981.
Scripture and Tradition
Canon and Inspiration
Apostolic succession and ordination
2013 | Preparations for 16th session of the Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission
On the Horizon
2014 | Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission
International Dialogue Milestones
1985 | 3rd Plenary in Allentown, U.S., Divine Revelation
1987 | 4th Plenary in Crete, Greece, Scripture and Tradition
1989 | 5th plenary in Bad Segeberg, Germany, The Canon and the Inspiration of the Holy Scripture
1993 | 7th Plenary in Sandbjerg, Denmark, The Ecumenical Councils
1995 | 8th Plenary in Limassol, Cyprus, Understanding of Salvation in the Light of the Ecumenical Councils
1998 | 9th Plenary in Sigtuna, Sweden, Salvation: Grace, Justification and Synergy
2000 | 10th Plenary in Damascus, Syria, Word and Sacraments (Mysteria) in the Life of the Church
2002 | 11th Plenary in Oslo, Norway, Mysteria/Sacraments as Means of Salvation
2004 | 12th Plenary in Duràu, Romania, Baptism and Chrismation as Sacraments of Initiation into the Church
2006 | 13th Plenary in Bratislava, Slovak Republic, The Mystery of the Church/The Holy Eucharist in the Life of the Church
Although international dialogue has a unique status and role within Lutheran-Orthodox relations, various regional Lutheran-Orthodox dialogues have developed a significant number of further themes.
The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), which includes Reformed and United churches in its membership, has been especially active in encouraging regional dialogues with Orthodox churches. Intensive Lutheran-Orthodox dialogue has also been carried out in Finland.
Documents agreed upon and produced by regional dialogues since the 1960s include following dialogues:
Finnish Lutheran Church – Russian Orthodox Church
EKD (Evangelical Church in Germany) - Russian Orthodox Church
EKD – Ecumenical Patriarchate
EKD - Romanian Orthodox Church
Federation of Evangelical Churches (BEK) [DDR] - Russian Orthodox Church
BEK [DDR] /EKD - Bulgarian Orthodox Church
Lutheran-Orthodox dialogue in the U.S.
Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church – Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church
Further information on most of these dialogues can be found in Risto Saarinen: Faith and Holiness - Lutheran-Orthodox Dialogue 1959-1994. Göttingen, Germany, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1997.
Rev. Dr KaisamariHintikka
Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs, Director for the Department for Theology and Public Witness