Global Lutheran bodies discuss the journey from conflict to communion

LWF and ILC representatives met at the International Lutheran Center in Wittenberg, Germany. Photo: ILC
LWF and ILC representatives met at the International Lutheran Center in Wittenberg, Germany. Photo: ILC

Interaction with each other at local and global levels

(LWI) – Representatives of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the International Lutheran Council (ILC) highlighted the need to continue discussions between the two global organizations and presented ongoing work related to the Reformation anniversary at their annual meeting this year. They also discussed the document From Conflict to Communion. The LWF extended an invitation to the ILC to attend the Joint Ecumenical Commemoration in Lund in October this year.

“Both Lutheran bodies have a real wish to move forward in harmony and mutual respect for each other,” says Rev. Dr Fidon Mwombeki, director of the LWF Department for Mission and Development, reflecting on the 24-25 February meeting, held in Wittenberg, Germany.

“Despite differences of opinion over some issues, we can still engage with each other in a respectful manner, and this is important for our members,” notes Mwombeki, attending the LWF-ILC meeting for the first time, as he joined the Communion Office in January 2016. “The devotions held together and informal talks around meals and break times are an important bridge-builder,” he adds.

In a communiqué following their meeting, the two partners said they had discussed the response of the ILC to the document From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran–Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017. Approaches and procedures for the ILC possibly joining the From Conflict to Communion process were discussed.

The ILC and LWF representatives discussed how they will interact with each other locally and internationally. The ILC presented a document outlining their understanding of ecumenical dialogue. LWF sought clarification about specific experiences and situations over which it had raised questions.

The ILC accepted LWF’s invitation for the Council’s representative to attend the Joint Ecumenical Commemoration of the Reformation to be held in Lund, Sweden, on 31 October 2016.

The ILC was established in 1958 as an association of those identifying themselves as confessional Lutheran church bodies that support one another and study theological issues together. Founded in 1947, the LWF communion currently has 145 member churches worldwide. Some of the Lutheran churches are affiliated to both organizations.

The meeting was attended by five participants from the LWF and four from the ILC. It was hosted by the ILC and co-chaired by LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge and ILC Chairman Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt. The two Lutheran bodies have been in ongoing discussions since 2006 and have met five times since 2011, honoring a 2005 memorandum of understanding.

The next meeting will be held, 7-8 February 2017 in Geneva, with hermeneutics as the theme, as this subject relates to the unity of the Church. “I look forward to our next meeting, where we will spend considerable time looking at what informs the ways we approach, read and interpret Scripture for Lutherans in both the LWF and ILC,” Mwombeki adds.

Read the LWF-ILC Communique