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Pictured (left to right): Hjalmar Bø, Øyvind Åsland, Albert Collver

On 19 August 2015, Øyvin Åsland, Executive Director of Norwegian Lutheran Mission (NLM), and Hjalmar Bø, Director NLM International Department, came to Saint Louis to visit with the Missouri Synod and to learn more about the International Lutheran Council (ILC). The Norwegian Lutheran Mission (NLM) was formed in 1891 as Det Norske Lutherske Kinamisjonsforbund (the Norwegian Lutheran Federation for Mission in China).  NLM is connected to the revival movements in Norway and adheres to the Holy Scriptures, the Ecumenical Creeds, the Augsburg Confession and the Small and Large Catechisms. NLM’s slogan is “The World for Christ.” The Norwegian Lutheran Mission operates in several of the same countries where the Missouri Synod also operates. For instance, the Norwegian Lutheran Missionaries established Tabor Evangelical College in Ethiopia. Currently, some of the faculty from Tabor Evangelical College are attending doctorate classes at Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis. Missionaries from NLM have frequent contact with Missouri Synod missionaries in places such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Latin America, and Africa. Although there have been many informal contacts through the years, this is the first time that the Norwegian Lutheran Mission has sought official contacts with the Missouri Synod and with the International Lutheran Council.

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Øyvind Åsland and Hjalmar Bø at Concordia Publishing House

Since 1891 (three years before the Missouri Synod engaged in international mission work), the Norwegian Lutheran Mission has been seeking to plant Lutheran churches around the world. NLM always has been a movement within but not under the Church of Norway and has been primarily a lay movement that sought to engage in missions. The Norwegian Lutheran Mission does not support the ordination of women. Most recently, the Norwegian Lutheran Mission voted to “establish religious communities” by a vote of 548 in favor to 121 against.

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The vote for the Norwegian Lutheran Mission (NLM) to establish “religious communities” is rather significant as it marks the shift of NLM from being purely a mission agency to also a church. As such NLM has begun to wrestle with the implications of this decision, such as how it will relate to other churches in the world and what sorts of relationships it will seek.

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Pictured (left to right): Rev. Paul McCain, Dr. Albert Collver, Jonathan Schulz, Øyvind Åsland and Hjalmar Bø

At Concordia Publishing House, the representatives from the Norwegian Lutheran Mission received an overview of CPH products that might be of interest to the mission field. In the past, NLM has translated a few books from CPH into Norwegian. They also received a tour of the facilities.

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After visiting Concordia Publishing House, the NLM representatives had the opportunity to visit Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis. Once again, the Norwegian Lutheran Mission is familiar with Concordia Seminary as some of their missionaries and leaders have studied there in the past.

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Dr. Jeff Kloha Provides An Overview of the Campus

At Concordia Seminary, the representatives from NLM saw highlights of the campus including the rare book room, where they saw the Bach Bible and Codex Vaticanus. The representatives from NLM noted how it is amazing that an institution remained faithful to the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions for 175 years, which only happens by the grace of God.

The first formal visit with the Norwegian Lutheran Mission went well and we are looking forward to more visits in the future.

— Rev. Albert B. Collver, Ph.D., Director of Church Relations