Kazakhstan and Brazil — News From Around The Church
In order to help us know what our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are dealing with around the world, and to assist us in our prayers for them, we bring you news from around the church.
News From Kazakhstan
On October 13, 2011, Kazakhstan adopted a new religious law titled, “The Law on Religious Activity and Religious Associations.” The law de-registers all existing religious organizations and requires them to re-register under new guidelines. Any religious organization that does not re-register could be “liquidated” under the new law. The law also bans all unregistered religious activity, imposes compulsory religious censorship, and requires both local and central government approval for the building or opening of houses of worship. In order to register, each congregation must have 50 adult members, 500 adult members in at least two regions, and 5,000 adult members in all regions. This requirement will eliminate the legal existence of any emerging Christian group (including Lutherans). In effect, Kazakhstan, which is official a secular Muslim country, will have two legal religions: Islam and Russian Orthodox. A second law signed, titled, “The Law on introducing Amendments and Additions to several legal acts questions of Religious Activity and Religious Associations,” amends the existing law and provides further restrictions particularly on the rights of children and religion. This law forbids religious organizations from attracting children, which makes illegal activities such as Sunday school, VBS, and religious sports camps, et al. With the passage of these two restrictive religious laws, it remains to be seen how they will be enforced. For more on these laws click here.
Brazilians Prepare for Reformation Celebration
Porto Alegre, Brazil – Leaders of two Brazilian Lutheran churches on Oct.18 said that local events in 2017 commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation would include creation of a space called “Luther Square” in Porto Alegre.
This city is the location of the national headquarters of theEvangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil(IECLB) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (IELB). The IECLB is a member of the Lutheran World Federation(LWF) and the IELB is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (USA).
At a launch event here, the churches also presented a commemorative stamp and shared their plans for common publications leading up to the anniversary. In 1517, German monk Martin Luther published his “95 Theses” in Wittenberg, Germany – criticisms of Catholic Church practices that inspired the growth of Protestantism, including establishment of the Lutheran Church.
IELB president, the Rev. Egon Kopereck, noted that the commemoration is a unique opportunity to emphasize the centrality of the word of God as the greatest legacy of Luther’s movement.
The president of IECLB, the Rev. Nestor Friedrich, stressed that anniversary should be relevant to the life of churches today. “[It] allows an analysis of theological heritage and of our own history. We have the possibility to reaffirm, to rediscover and to contextualize Lutheran theology and its contribution, especially in Brazil,” said Friedrich.
The event was attended by the mayor of Porto Alegre, Jose Fortunati, Roman Catholic Archbishop Dom Dadeus Grings and the moderator of the Central Committee of the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, the Rev. Walter Altmann, among other authorities.
(Marcelo Schneider is communications liaison for Latin America with the World Council of Churches)
Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations
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