Lutherans and Orthodox finalize statement on ordained ministry

The Lutheran - Orthodox Joint Commission gathered for its 17th Plenary Session in Helsinki, Finland, from 7-14 November.

Commission members commemorate 2017 Reformation anniversary

(LWI) - The Lutheran - Orthodox Joint Commission on Unity has moved closer to publishing a common statement on ordained ministry/priesthood. The statement of the international dialogue group was approved during the 17th Plenary Session of the commission in Helsinki, Finland, 7-14 November.

Finalizing the statement on the sub-theme on ordained ministry/priesthood closes discussions on the general theme of “The Mystery of the Church,” with which the Joint-Commission has been working since 2000. Preparations of the statement on ministry occur in a committee that has been meeting annually since 2012.

This common statement identified areas where Orthodox and Lutherans agree and disagree on several topics between the two traditions
Communiqué Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission

“This common statement identified areas where Orthodox and Lutherans agree and disagree on several topics between the two traditions,” an official communiqué stated.  

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Orthodox Church established the commission in 1981. In Helsinki, papers were presented on ordained ministry and priesthood and service; ordained ministry and priesthood in the early church; the role of women in the church; and women’s ordination.

This year’s meeting also incorporated a seminar to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation under the theme, “Legacy of the Reformation – Lutheran and Orthodox Approaches.” LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge and Prof. emeritus Dr Konstantinos Delikostantis made presentations on Christian freedom from the perspective of their respective traditions.  

The latter part of the seminar reflected the legacy of the Lutheran tradition both in the Nordic welfare societies as well as the ecumenical relations in Finland through papers presented by Prof. emeritus Eila Helander and Rev. Heikki Huttunen, General Secretary, Conference of European Churches.

Commission members also participated in the consecration of the newly-elected diocesan leader of Helsinki, Lutheran Bishop Dr Teemu Laajasalo, and visited the Uspenskij Cathedral of the Finnish Orthodox Church.

The commission meeting was co-chaired by H. E. Metropolitan Dr Gennadios of Sassima from the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Archbishop emeritus Anders Wejryd, Church of Sweden.

The next plenary meeting of the commission will be held in early 2019, with the venue yet to be determined. The commission will then move to a new phase to discuss the general theme, “The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church.”

As the commission prepares for its future work, LWF Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Relations Rev. Dr Kaisamari Hintikka expressed gratitude for the possibility to move on to a new phase of the bilateral dialogue.  

“We are grateful that the long preparatory process has finally resulted in a statement that shows that Lutherans and Orthodox have been able to grow in our shared understanding of certain elements of the ordained ministry/priesthood. This is important for closing the discussions on the general ecclesiological theme which the commission has worked on since the year 2000.”

The final statement will be available later this year.

Read the communiqué