Dialogue partners | Orthodox Churches


High-level visits between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the LWF, and separate deliberations on both sides, began in 1967.

The fourth preparatory meeting of the 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.

Key Themes

  • Divine Revelation
  • Scripture and Tradition
  • Canon and Inspiration
  • Sacraments
  • Apostolic succession and ordination
  • Ministry/Priesthood

Current Activities

2012-2014 | Preparatory meetings for the 16th session of the Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission
2013 | Preparations for 16th session of the Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission
2015 | Plenary meeting of the Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission on Ministry/Priesthood


On the Horizon

2015 | Reception of the plenary report of the Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission on Ministry/Priesthood by the LWF Council

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
  • 2008 | 14th Plenary in Paphos, Cyprus, The Mystery of the Church: The Holy Eucharist in the Life of the Church
  • 2011 | 15th Plenary in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany, The Mystery of the Church: The Nature, Attributes and Mission of the Church
  • 2017 | 17th Plenary in Helsinki, Finland, The Mystery of the Church:  Ordained Ministry/Priesthood 

Regional Agreements

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 and on Risto Saarinen's web page.