Posts tagged LCMS
NOTE: Just over five years ago, in June of 2010, a group of 25 leaders representing a dozen Lutheran churches from around the globe met on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for what was described as a “Confessional Leadership Conference” sponsored by the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) of the LCMS. This genesis of this conference was a resolution (3-03) adopted by the 2007 convention of the LCMS.
• rejoiced that “the LCMS has been richly blessed with theological resources including two outstanding seminaries and a rich heritage and history of being confessionally strong,” and that “the LCMS is blessed to work with other confessional Lutheran churches around the world”;
• urged “the CTCR, in consultation with the Office of the President and our seminaries, [to] coordinate fundamentally constructive and intentionally supportive efforts such as theological symposia [and] conferences … to uphold and nurture confessional Lutheranism”; and • asked that “members of partner churches, members of the ILC, as well as other church bodies and individuals be invited to participate” in these events for the purpose of “furthering and nurturing confessional Lutheran theology at home and abroad.”
With 2017 approaching, we dare not stop now. “World Lutheranism,” noted the Synod, “is in the process of a seismic realignment, which creates tremendous opportunities and challenges.” “The memory and theology of the Reformation…is in serious danger of extinction,” even among churches and organizations around the world that bear the name “Lutheran” but have forsaken critical aspects of historic Lutheran theology. “We urge the CTCR and the President’s Office,” said the Synod, “to continue their plans” for another international conference set for the spring of 2015, “to discuss possibilities for collaborative efforts among confessional Lutherans around the world toward the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017” (Res. 4-04).
So here we are in “Little Wittenberg,” where it all began almost 500 years ago. We are here to celebrate the Reformation rightly: to remember, to repent, and to rejoice. We are delighted that you are with us in this historic place, at this historic time, to celebrate, reflect, discuss, and collaborate. The future of world Lutheranism truly is in the balance nearly 500 years after Luther shook the church and the world by posting his theses on the door of the Castle Church, just across town. As we gather, worship, listen and join in fellowship, please know and be assured: “That we, as a Synod, give thanks for the encouragement of the bold witness and dedication to the Word of God of confessional Lutheran church bodies around the world and urge the members of the Synod to pray for these church bodies…that God may continue to bless us and them” (2013 Res. 4-04).
In Christ’s Name, Rev. Dr. Joel D. Lehenbauer
(English and German Text Below)
WITTENBERG, Germany – Confessional Lutheran church leaders from every continent except Antarctica are discussing burgeoning churches in the Global South and East as well as challenges in the West, during the International Conference on Confessional Leadership in the 21st Century here May 6-7.
Representatives from 41 countries representing 23 million Lutherans worldwide have converged at the very cradle of the Reformation not long before 2017, when Lutherans will celebrate the Reformation’s 500th anniversary. Under the theme: Celebrating the Reformation Rightly: Remembrance, Repentance, Rejoicing, discussions are ranging from the challenges of spreading the Gospel in Western countries to its rapid growth in places like Africa, South America, the Far East and many others.
“We have representatives here from Ethiopia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Cameroon, Cambodia, Malaysia, Peru, Papua New Guinea … all over the world,” said the Rev. Dr. Albert Collver III, executive secretary of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). “And yet, now the work begins for us, as we hope to reach others amid the challenges presented by post-modernity and a rise in paganism.”
Collver said the mission field in the West is a major challenge for confessional Lutherans amid a decline of Christianity in Europe and the U.S.
“As someone coming to Wittenberg for first time, it is a pleasure for me to see how it is important for our churches to be together, to make our confession known to all, particularly as we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation,” said the Rev. Dr. Wakseyoum Idosa, president of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus. “This gathering of church leaders is a sign for us to go onto the next 500 years of the Reformation. The Reformation’s message to the world is that, according to the context we are in now, we need to be faithful to the Word of God as we serve God’s people.”
The collaborative event was a coordinated effort by the ILC, the Selbständige Evangelisch Lutherische Kirche (SELK) and the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, with representatives from the North American Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also participating.
“This conference is a huge sign of the catholicity of the Lutheran church,” said SELK Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt, who also is the ILC’s chairman. “A central theme of this conference is that we confessional Lutherans remember, repent and celebrate the Reformation, and I’m very thankful to be a part of that.”
The ILC is an association of established confessional Lutheran church bodies which proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the basis of an unconditional commitment to the Holy Scriptures as the inspired and infallible Word of God and to the Lutheran Confessions contained in the Book of Concord as the true and faithful exposition of the Word of God.
The ILC executive committee meets this week in Wittenberg to discuss locating the organization’s headquarters at the recently dedicated International Lutheran Center at the Old Latin School here.
For further inquiries within the U.S., please call the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod press officer, David Yow, 314 996-1236 or e-mail David.Yow@lcms.org.
Lutheraner aus der ganzen Welt versammeln sich zur Konferenz in Wittenberg
WITTENBERG, Deutschland – Leitende Geistliche lutherischer Konfessionskirchen aus allen Kontinenten diskutierten im Rahmen einer internationalen Leitungskonferenz vom 5. bis 7. Mai 2015 über wachsende Kirchen im Süden und Osten der Welt, sowie über Fragen des Mitgliederrückgangs in westlichen Ländern.
Delegiert aus 41 Ländern, die 23 Millionen lutherische Christen weltweit vertreten, versammelten sich in Vorbereitung des 500. Reformationsjubiläums im Jahr 2017an der Wiege der Reformation in Wittenberg. Unter dem Motto: „Die Reformation angemessen feiern: Erinnerung, Umkehr und Buße, Freude“, werden Gespräche über Herausforderungen der Ausbreitung des christlichen Glaubens in der westlichen Welt, in Afrika, Südamerika, in Fernost und in vielen anderen Regionen geführt.
„Wir haben hier in Wittenberg Delegierte aus Äthiopien, Madagaskar, Tansania, Kamerun, Kambodscha, Malaysia, Peru, Papua Neuguinea… aus der ganzen Welt. Unsere Arbeit steht noch am Anfang. Wir hoffen viele Menschen inmitten der Probleme postmoderner und postchristlicher Gesellschaften mit dem Evangelium zu erreichen“, sagte Pfarrer Dr. Albert Collver III., Sekretär des Internationalen Lutherischen Rats (ILC).
Collver erläuterte, dass die Ausbreitung des Christlichen Glaubens in der westlichen Welt, wo das Christentum sich ständig verringert, eine große Herausforderung für konfessionelle Lutheraner sei.
„Als einer, der zum ersten Mal in Wittenberg sein darf, ist es für mich eine wahre Freude, zu sehen, wie wichtig es unseren Kirchen ist, zusammen zu sein, unser gemeinsames Bekenntnis allen zu verkünden, besonders jetzt, wo wir uns dem 500. Jubiläum der Reformation nähern,“ sagte Dr. Wakseyoum Idosa, Präsident der Äthiopischen Evangelischen Mekane Yesus Kirche. „Diese Versammlung von Leitern verschiedener Kirchen ist für uns ein Ansporn für die nächsten 500 Jahre der Reformation. Die Botschaft der Reformation an die Welt ist, dass wir auch im heutigen Kontext dem Wort Gottes treu bleiben müssen während wir Gottes Volk dienen“.
Dieses Ereignis wurde vom ILC, der Selbständigen Lutherischen Kirche (SELK) und der Lurtherische Kirche-Missouri Synode (LCMS) organisiert, in der auch Vertreter der Nord Amerikanischen Lutherischen Kirche (NALC) und der Evangelisch Lutherischen Kirche in Amerika (ELCA) teilnahmen.
„Diese Konferenz ist ein Zeichen der Katholizität der Lutherischen Kirche“, sagte SELK Bischof Hans-Jörg Voigt, D.D., der zurzeit Vorsitzender des ILC ist. Es sei für ihn wichtig, internationale Kontakte zu pflegen.
Die ILC ist ein Verband etablierter lutherischer Konfessionskirchen, die das Evangelium von Jesus Christus „auf der Basis eines vorbehaltlosen Bekenntnisses zur heiligen Schrift als dem inspirierten und unfehlbaren Wort Gottes, und des Lutherischen Bekenntnisses, zusammengefasst im Konkordienbuch, als treue Auslegung des Wortes Gottes angenommen haben“.
Das Exekutiv-Komitee des ILC trifft sich diese Woche in Wittenberg, um unter anderem die Präsenz des weltweiten Verbundes lutherischer Kirchen in Wittenberg in der kürzlich eingeweihten Alten Lateinschule zu beraten.
On this most recent trip to Ethiopia, Rev. Mark Rabe and Rev. Eric Stinnett visited the Mekane Yesus Seminary (MYS) for the first time. Both of them recently received calls from the Board for International Mission (BIM) to serve as theological educators in Ethiopia at the Mekane Yesus Seminary. Watch the brief interview with them.
Pictured (left to right): Rev. Mark Rabe, OIM Theological Educator to MYS and Rev. Eric Stinnett, OIM Theological Educator to MYS.
Pictured: Dr. Albert Collver and Bishop Wilson Noah Rule
19 April 2015
Bishop Wilson Noah Rule of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sudan / South Sudan travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to meet regarding a request to have fellowship with the Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod. Bishop Rule originally requested fellowship with the LCMS in 2013. The geo-political events and difficulties in obtaining visas for travel prevented a face to face visit until now.
The ELCS/SS is based out of Juba, South Sudan. The church body was established in 1993 in Juba. Due to geo-political instability, the church was relocated to Khartoum. At the beginning of the 21st Century, the LCMS assisted the ELCS/SS with church plants in the Nuba Mountains and a seminary was established in Khartoum. Once again, geo-political instabilities forced a relocation. The seminary moved to Yambio and began classes in 2008. Lutheran Heritage Foundation was greatly instrumental in assisting the ELCS/SS.
The ELCS/SS currently has over 150 congregations and nearly half that many pastors, as well as approximately 100 evangelists. The church holds that the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God and subscribes to the Book of Concord without reservation.
It was a great blessing that Bishop Wilson Noah Rule was able to come to Addis Ababa for a meeting. The next steps will involve meetings with members of the CTCR as fellowship discussions continue. Deo Volente, the two churches will be able to recognize fellowship. May God grant it.
The Lutheran Heritage Foundation was instrumental in bringing Bishop Wilson Noah Rule to Addis Ababa.
A Portion of the International Mission Budget According to the Six Priorities
At the LCMS International Center, we are engaged in the budgeting process for the next fiscal year which begins on July 1, 2015. At times, people wonder how budgeting priorities are decided (in fact the Synod Board of Directors recently asked this question of me), in particular for the Synod’s work in International Mission. Since January 2014, the Office of International Mission has been guided by a strategic plan which is based around the six mission priorities adopted by the Synod in the 2013 convention (2013 Res. 3-06A — “To Adopt Mission and Ministry Emphases for the 2013-2016 Triennium”). These mission priorities were not created in a vacuum, but based upon the Synod’s constitution and the reason and purpose for the formation of the Synod.
The theme of the Office of International Mission strategic plan is “Consolidate, Focus, Renew and Establish Partnerships.”
When this theme was developed, the Missouri Synod listed working in 90+ countries but had only about 68 career missionaries, which works out to 1.3 countries per missionary. Some of the Missouri Synod’s work was grants and disaster response. The question that the OIM leadership and the Regional Directors asked was, “What sort of impact could we have with one missionary per 1.3 countries?” The answer was not nearly as much impact as we would like. Additionally, having missionaries scattered around without a community was not good for pastoral care or for missionary care in general. A field driven decision (the Regional Directors) to consolidate the missionaries into tighter teams was made. This not only allows the Missouri Synod to have a greater impact but also affords better missionary care. From these positions of strengths, the Regional Directors would branch out into new areas. Another significant part of the strategy is to recruit people based on the positions needed, rather than find people and then scramble to identify a position where they might serve. People are recruited on the basis of filling the field leadership first, and then the other support personnel for a program or a country. This strategy is in alignment with the Synod’s convention goal of doubling the number of career missionaries (2013 Res. 1-11). Career missionaries by definition include pastors, rostered workers, and other lay people who desire to serve in international mission for more than 2 years. As of January 2015, the Missouri Synod has increased the number of career missionaries from 68 (the number of missionaries at the Synod convention in 2013) to 105 career missionaries called or appointed. This is more than half way toward the goal of doubling the number of career missionaries. The Lord indeed is sending laborers into his harvest.
The Six Mission Priorities were developed on the basis of the Missouri Synod’s Constitution and Bylaws. They were adopted by the 2013 Synod Convention. These mission priorities guide all the activities of the Office of International Mission (OIM). In fact, the Board for International Mission (BIM) policies were written with the six priorities in mind. How these priorities are carried out is partially governed by the Toward a Responsible Lutheran Church. For instance, how these priorities are carried out depends upon where the partner church or non-partner church, or church plant is at in its life. Church bodies always are in relationship with one another, and are interdependent upon one another. When a missionary goes into a new area, that missionary is the primary person who preaches, teaches, and baptizes. After there is a group of believes, the training of local indigenous leaders begins. After a period of time, those indigenous leaders preach, teach, baptize, and so forth, while the LCMS missionary takes on a supportive role of further training and support.
- Plant, sustain, revitalize Lutheran churches.
a. Nurture, plant, embolden churches in mission.
In the area of church planting, the Missouri Synod has planted churches which later became partner churches of the Synod — churches such as the India Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELC) in 1894, the Lutheran Church of Nigeria (LCN) in the 1930s, the Lutheran Church of Korea (LCK) in the 1960s, and so forth. Today in these church bodies, the Missouri Synod supports the church planting efforts of our partners by providing training for evangelists and pastors. In many places in Africa, the single biggest challenge to church planting is the lack of tin roofs. One area of church planting support is the Office of International Mission’s tin roof program. In the tin roof program, the local church builds the walls and the Missouri Synod helps by providing roofs. Partner churches and non-partner churches alike request assistance in training the indigenous evangelists and pastors who will go out and plant new congregations. In some cases, partner churches ask for an LCMS missionary to do church planting. Usually, these are special cases where tribal differences or other circumstances make it more logical to have a Missouri Synod missionary do the actual church planting.
When it comes to church planting, a question that needs to be asked is where to plant the church. If Missouri Synod missionaries are working in a country that has a Lutheran church, the question needs to be asked if we can work with that church, or if we need to plant a new church. In many cases, we are able to work with the existing Lutheran church in some way. In the map above, the primary places where Lutheran churches do not currently exist are in Muslim countries or other closed countries. Where we might have work in Muslim countries or a closed country, the Synod is not really able to publicize the work. When we are working with an existing Lutheran church, our work falls into the realm of support and theological education. Many existing Lutheran churches, particularly with the sexuality decisions made by the ELCA and the Church of Sweden, are seeking the Biblical and Confessional position of the Missouri Synod.
- Support and expand theological education.
a. Support Seminaries (foreign and domestic).
b. Provide regional conferences, short-term training, pastoral continuing education.
c. Train evangelists.
Other than a request for missionaries, the most significant request that the Missouri Synod receives is for theological education, which is broadly defined as scholarships to Concordia Theological Seminary or Concordia Seminary St Louis, as scholarships to regional seminaries, as requests for missionary professors to teach both short and long term, as continuing education opportunities and seminars, as training for evangelists, church planters, and deaconesses, and as requests for theological books and materials. A significant portion of these requests are handled by the Global Seminary Initiative. Dr. Baue pictured above is teaching the Lutheran Confessions at the Mekane Yesus Seminary in Ethiopia as a result of the Global Seminary Initiative (GSI). Another recent project of the Global Seminary Initative was to partner with the Lutheran Heritage Foundation (LHF) to bring 30,000 copies of the Ecumenical Creeds, the Augsburg Confession, and the Small and Large Catechisms to Ethiopia in both Amharic and English. In March, the South East of Lake Victoria Diocese in Tanzania will celebrate the sending of 21 ordained pastors and a number of evangelists out, trained in partnership between GSI and Concordia Theological Seminary. In March and April, a number of professors from both Concordia Seminary St Louis and Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne will help advise students in the masters of theology program in Ethiopia (another GSI project). Theological education is one of the greatest ways that the Missouri Synod can have an impact on world Lutheranism.
3. Perform Human Care in close proximity to Word and Sacrament ministries.
a. Work closely with church partners and/or Lutheran congregations to reach out to those in need.
The Office of International Mission (OIM) was given the task to carry out LCMS World Relief and Human Care’s international work after the restructuring mandated by the 2010 Synod convention. A hallmark of the Missouri Synod’s human care and disaster response work is that it is done in close proximity to Word and Sacrament ministry. Most often on the international scene this is done in conjunction with a Partner Church of the Synod. James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.” The church cares for those of the church who are in need. In most cases, the Missouri Synod does not do this work itself, but aides and supports the works of our partners around the world. The human care work is carried out where the people who receive help can hear the Gospel preached. The Tertullian reported that the pagans would say of the Christians, “See how they love another.” Christian love and compassion spills out of the church to the neighbor. Gerhard Uhlhorn noted, “For the world before Christ came was a world without love.” Uhlhorn continued, “The fundamental distinction between the ancient liberalitas and the Christian caritas lies in this, that the latter always keeps in view the welfare of the poor and needy; to help them is its only object; whereas the Roman, who exercises the virtue of liberality, considers in reality himself alone (I do not mean always in a bad sense), and exercises his liberality as a bribe wherewith to win the favours of the multitude.” Christian charity is only to help, not to win favor. Missionaries in an area frequently see people in need. There is a distinction between relative poverty and critical poverty or need. Relative poverty is poverty compared to another place, such as the United States. The goal of Christian charity is not to elevate everyone to the same level as in communism or in some egalitarian fantasy, but rather to help those who are in critical need or whose lives are in danger. Such aide or help always is provided in close proximity to where the Gospel is proclaimed. Often times the church’s work of mercy is to care for those no one else will help. In fact, the Missouri Synod’s mission work in India in 1894 began among the dalit, or the untouchable cast in India.
4. Collaborate with the Synod’s members and partners to enhance mission effectiveness.
a. Mission programs support the Synod’s objectives to promote unity of ministry effort.
The Missouri Synod’s international mission team strives to work with our partners — church partners and RSOs, auxiliaries, and mission societies. We can accomplish more together than we can individually. This was in fact one of the reasons why the Synod was founded. After the founding of the Synod, other groups and organizations formed to address specific areas or specialities that the Synod did not have the capacity or some cases the interest to pursue at a given time. Our partner churches and RSOs, auxiliaries, and mission societies help increase the impact that the Missouri Synod has world wide. The Office of International Mission desires to partner with these groups to expand the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus.
5. Nurture pastors, missionaries and professional workers to promote spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.
a. All people serving in the field (foreign and domestic) will receive spiritual care in Word and Sacrament.
One of the reasons that the Regional Directors recommended that “consolidate” be part of the Office of International Mission strategic plan was to provide better pastoral care for missionaries. When people are scattered about it can be difficult to provide good care. One way that OIM is attempting to address this is to call pastors to act as a regional chaplain for the missionaries. We also are attempting to place people together into communities so that they are not as isolated as they might have been. A part of the strategy is to send out missionaries in teams of three or more families. Where possible missionaries should worship with partner churches; where this is not possible the missionary team can hold regular worship. Other opportunities for missionary care includes continuing education and online courses in missiology as pictured above led by Dr. Detlev Schultz. As the number of missionaries on the field continues to increase, a significant focus of the Office of International Mission will be on missionary care and retention.
6. Enhance elementary and secondary education and youth ministry.
a. Schools will support the need to offer high quality education that is distinctly Lutheran, careful not to capitulate to the culture, seeking opportunities to expand the work of witness and mercy.
The Missouri Synod is known as a church that excels at education. Parochial schools have a long history in the Synod. It is no surprise that the Synod’s mission efforts have included Christian education as a part of the strategy. Currently, the Synod has three international schools: Hong Kong International School, Concordia Shanghai, and Concordia Hanoi. Some of our partner churches such as the Japan Lutheran Church (NRK) operate schools such as the Urawa Lutheran School. Other partners also have schools where Missouri Synod teachers are able to serve as missionary teachers. In some cases, government regulations do not allow for the creation of a parochial school so other opportunities for teaching the youth are sought including Sunday school and Vacation Bible Schools.
This post just begins to scratch the surface of the Missouri Synod’s mission work around the world. The Lord has provided many opportunities for service and He provides the laborers for His harvest. We have much to be thankful for as we ask for his help to carry on the proclamation of the Gospel to the world.
— Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, Director of Church Relations / Regional Operations
The February 2015 issue of the Journal of Lutheran Mission is out. You can look at the entire issue here. Below is an overview of LCMS career missionaries from 1894 until the present. Many factors go into the increase and decrease of international missionaries including economic, theological reasons, and social reasons. This article examines some of those.