Yesterday, Rick Steenbock, LCMS Communication and Projects Manager for the Eurasia Region, reported on the regional meetings of the International Lutheran Council. Following those activities, the members of the council joined others in the 23rd European Lutheran Council, which began yesterday, May 22, 2014. Rick reports on the opening day of the conference with this article, as well as a short video.
The title for this year’s conference, “Living in an Ecumenical World”, is not only an important topic for those living in Europe but also a critical topic for all confessional church bodies as they wrestle with the proper way to relate and fellowship with other Christian bodies. The book of Ephesians is the focus of Bible study for the conference. The group spends an hour each morning and an hour each evening in worship, prayer and Bible study.
Day one of the conference was met by two presentations on the topic. Rev. Gijsbertus van Hattem, president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Belgium, started the conference with a paper on the topic: “What Makes Our Church a Church?” His focus was on the Augsburg Confession. His argument was that we must understand our history and who we are as a church in order to understand how we are different from other Christian church bodies.
The second presentation of the day was made by Rev. Roger Zieger, mission director for the Lutheran Church Mission (LKM) of Germany. His topic; “How then does our Church regard/react to all the other groups which call themselves Christian?” Rev. Zieger contended that we should welcome opportunities to interact with other Christian groups because we have a firm foundation and know who we are and where we stand. It is when we don’t know who we are that there might be fear and hesitation. This was demonstrated by using Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt standing on a table on one leg and trying to reach out.
Watch this short video highlight: