Pastor James Krikava, associate Eurasia Regional Director, speaks about doing mission work in the Czech Republic. He and Rev. Tony Book, Eurasia Regional Director, are based out of Prague working to strengthen Lutheran identity through out Central Europe, as well as working with established and emerging LCMS partners throughout Europe.
Pastor Peter Lange, 1st VP of the Kansas District and pastor at St. John’s Topeka, KS, speaks about his congregation’s partnership with the Office of International Mission for the past 15 years and most recently through its support of Pastor James Krikava as a Network Supported Missionary (NSM) in the Czech Republic.
To support Rev. James Krikava’s work in the Czech Republic (as Pastor Lange and St John’s have) please visit http://www.lcms.org/krikava
Part of the video was shot in the Jesus Church (Kościół Jezusowy) in Polsky Tesin. The Jesus Church holds between 6,000 and 7,000 people. The church was constructed between 1709-1750. It is the largest Lutheran church in the region.
Altar area of the Jesus Church
Looking toward the nave of the Jesus Church.
For Immediate Release
December 15, 2014
FORT WAYNE, Ind.—The faculty, students and staff of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, were pleased to welcome the Rev. Dr. Wakseyoum Idossa, president of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), to the campus today, December 15, 2014. The EECMY is the largest and fastest growing Lutheran church body in Africa with nearly seven million members. President Idossa’s visit follows meetings that took place in November in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that continued the discussion concerning the relationship between The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the EECMY. Those discussions were focused especially on partnering in theological education and human care opportunities.
CTS has been providing theological education to Ethiopians for well over a decade with Ethiopian students traveling to study at the Fort Wayne campus and by having members of the faculty teach at the Mekane Yesus Seminary. “We are particularly glad today to celebrate the relationship that is budding between our seminary and the EECMY. We are partnering already with the EECMY in very important ways, especially by working very specifically and intentionally with the Mekane Yesus Seminary in Addis Ababa,” commented CTS President Dr. Lawrence R. Rast Jr.
In his comments to the CTS community President Idossa expressed his thanks. “It is the pleasure of my church body to be partnering with the seminary and with our dear friend, President Rast, who visited us last November to discuss ways of working more closely. We are thankful for your prayers and also for the support you are contributing. I ask you to continue to uphold us in your prayers and also walk together with us as we are engaging in God’s mission to serve the Ethiopian society and beyond.”
Among several participants in the November meetings in Addis Ababa was the Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, director of LCMS Church Relations, who commented on the visit, “I am very pleased that President Idossa was able to visit the Fort Wayne seminary. I expect great things to emerge from this and other meetings.”
“We are very blessed to be expanding our working together with the EECMY,” said President Rast. “We look forward to God continuing to bless our relationship.”
On 13 September 2014, the CTCR adopted without dissent a document titled, “Knowing What We Seek and Why We Come: Questions and Answers concerning the Communing of Infants and Young Children.” The CTCR also adopted as a supplement to the aforementioned document, “Response to the Request for a Supplement to the CTCR Opinion, Response to “Concerns of the South Wisconsin District Circuits 18 and 19 Regarding Infant Communion” (1997).” Both documents are given in their entirety below.
Among other questions, the CTCR document addresses, “What historical precedent is there for paedocommunion?” Answer: “there is no evidence for a widespread practice of paedocommunion in the earliest centuries of the church’s history.”
In the early days of the Missouri Synod, the Synod’s Constitution while not mentioning an age for confirmation suggested that a minimum of 100 hours of instruction should be given before a person received communion.
The document also discusses the Scripture passages regarding self-examination and notes how even though the Lutheran Reformers were aware that the Eastern churches practiced infant communion, they did not seek to introduce this practice.
The document is well worth the read.
The supplemental document.
Another helpful resource on the topic of infant communion can be found here:
“Theses on Infant/Toddler Communion” by Professor John Pless.
The Rev. Juhana Pohjola, Dean of the recently formed Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, has been defrocked by the nominally Lutheran Church of Finland. His offence was participating as a founder and leader of the Mission Diocese, which the CoF considers to be “violating his ordination vows.” Dean Pohjola earned a STM at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, in 1999 and will defend his doctoral dissertation at the University of Helsinki on August 15.
The following report is written by The Rev. Samuli Siikavirta, a doctoral candidate in New Testament at Cambridge University who was ordained in the Mission Diocese earlier this summer.
Dean of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, Rev Juhana Pohjola, Defrocked by the National Church
On 5 August 2014, the Cathedral Chapter [Consistory] of the Diocese of Oulu ordered Rev Juhana Pohjola to forfeit his pastoral office in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, invoking ELCF legislation (ELCF Church Law 5:3.3). The decision came into effect immediately.
Rev. Pohjola was ordained by former Bishop of Oulu, Rt Rev Olavi Rimpiläinen, in 1999 to serve the newly founded Luther Foundation Finland within the Church of Finland. The intention of Rev Pohjola’s work in the Luther Foundation was to build up confessional Lutheran liturgical life within the ELCF and to insure that members holding to the apostolic view of the Office have places where they can receive the Sacraments and hear the Word.
In 2013, the congregations that were part of the Luther Foundation Finland and a handful of other independent ones formed the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland. From 2005 until last year, the LFF was a supporting member of the Mission Province in Sweden. What began as the work of one part-time Pastor (Pohjola) and one congregation in the capital city in 1999 has today grown into a network of 30 congregations and missions nationwide. The Mission Diocese sees itself as an independent, confessional and non-geographical churchly structure in Finland that lives out the official confession of the ELCF that the ‘national church’ has largely abandoned.
The Cathedral Chapter of the ELCF Diocese of Oulu argued for its decision in the following manner:
“The Cathedral Chapter deemed it to be clear that Juhana Pohjola, who had been a member of the clergy of the Diocese of Oulu, has acted contrary to the duties of the pastoral office and transgressed the ordination promise [vow] that he had made on 18 Dec 1999, and turned out to be obviously unfit to be a pastor by becoming the Diocesan Dean of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, by directing the head office of the Mission Diocese, by belonging to its College of Pastors, by acting as a member of its Consistory and under it, together with being under the pastoral oversight and acting as the aide of the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, Risto Soramies.”
“The Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland was founded in March 2013. The said community that is an unregistered association [a Finnish legal term] has organised itself resembling a Christian church by having its own congregations, diocese and bishop. The Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland have stated together in March 2013 that the newly formed Mission Diocese has no organisational status in our church and neither is it attached to the structure of our church. According to the Bishops’ statement, a Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland who acts in the Mission Diocese stands in obvious conflict with the loyalty expected of a pastor and with the ordination promise.”
The defrocking of a pastor is the most severe punishment that the ELCF can issue. Excommunication or the revoking of membership is no longer a possibility. The Diocesan Chapter appealed to paragraph 5:3.3 of the ELCF Church Law, stating,
“A pastor who acts against the duties of the pastoral office and the ordination promise, or neglects them or behaves in a way unfit for a pastor, may, according to the quality of the matter, be given a written warning or suspended from the pastoral office for a minimum of one and a maximum of six months by the Diocesan Chapter. If the pastor’s unseemly behaviour, neglect in the pastoral office or other behaviour indicates him/her to be obviously unfit to be a pastor, the Diocesan Chapter can order him to forfeit his pastoral office [i.e. be defrocked].”
In a blog post on the Mission Diocese website, Rev Pohjola acknowledges that the decision to be defrocked pains him deeply but that it was also to be expected in the current church-political situation.
“The words ‘obviously unfit’ leave no room for interpretation. They are rough especially when talking about the office in which one is to act constantly with the great Day of Judgment in view. Being defrocked also contains shameful dimensions. Hardly anyone wants to be unfit and dismissed.”
The defrocking of those Mission Diocese pastors and bishops who were ordained in the ELCF before the Luther Foundation or Mission Diocese were formed may also have wider consequences on the identity formation of the Mission Diocese.
“The message, ‘you are obviously unfit for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland’, has been sent to thousands of people attending Mass in the Mission Diocese”, Rev Pohjola writes.
He maintains that the decision shows the theological decline that is going on in the ELCF.
“This decision of the Diocesan Chapter is yet another step within the reformation [in Finnish: ‘purge of the faith’] that is going on in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Instead of the Church being purged with God’s Word, she is being purged from God’s Word.”
Despite being now defrocked by the national church, Rev Pohjola will continue preaching the Word and administering the Sacraments, now as a pastor only of the Mission Diocese.
“What now after this? One friend reminded me of a liberating Bible verse: ‘set apart for the Gospel of God’ (Rom. 1:1). That gives me, too, enough to do in the Apostolic Office until the end of my life!”
An interesting church historical quirk is that Rev Pohjola will be defending his doctoral dissertation at the University of Helsinki on 15 August on the topic of ordination rites in the ELCF between 1963 and 2003 and their understanding of ordination and the pastoral office. His Opponent at the defence will be Rt Rev Jari Jolkkonen, ELCF Bishop of Kuopio.
Link to Dean Pohjola’s statement (in Finnish):
Links to reports on the confessional Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland:
Christopher C. Barnekov, PhD
Scandinavia House Fort Wayne
1925 Saint Joe Center RD
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
Ph. (260) 399-6565
Participants: Dr. Joel Lehenbauer (CTCR – LCMS); Dr. Albert Collver (LCMS); Shinri Emoto (General Secretary NRK); Rev. Saito (Mission Secretary NRK); Rev. Ando (Director of Disaster Relief NRK); Mr. Ando (Urawa Lutheran School NRK)
16 July 2014
Representatives from the Missouri Synod and the Japan Lutheran Church (NRK) met to discuss rekindling the the 50 plus year partnership between the two church bodies. Dr. Collver noted that the LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM) strategic plan calls for renewing and strengthening partnerships and that the discussion with the NRK could not have occurred at a more opportune time.
This past spring the NRK elected a new president, Rev. Shimizu Shin after President Kumei retired. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer attended this convention as the LCMS representative.
The Urawa high school founded by the LCMS in 1953 occupied a significant portion of the conversation. Currently, the high school has approximately 700
students. The school has out grown its facility and plans to build a new building to house more than 1000 students. The student body, only 10% of whom are Christian, is to reach the other 90% through Bible classes and daily chapel services.
In addition to the high school the NRK asked if the LCMS could send missionaries for the following work:
– A pastor for the Okinawa Lutheran Church
– A Seminary Professor in Tokyo
– Chaplain for Urawa Lutheran School
LCMS OIM agrees to begin recruiting for these positions.
Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver