LCMS, LCC, Nicaragua Lutherans sign protocol agreement

The LCMS and Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC) signed a protocol agreement May 13 in Chinandega, Nicaragua, with the Lutheran Church—Synod of Nicaragua (Iglesia Luterana Sinodo de Nicaragua, or ILSN) that allows for an expansion of mission work in the Central American country.

The Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III, director of LCMS Church Relations and Regional Operations, left, and Lutheran Church—Synod of Nicaragua President Rev. Marvin Donaire sign a protocol agreement May 13 in Chinandega, Nicaragua. Also signing the document, which allows for expansion of mission work in that country, was the Rev. Leonardo Neitzel, a representative of Lutheran Church—Canada. (LCMS Church Relations)

The Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III, director of LCMS Church Relations and Regional Operations, left, and Lutheran Church—Synod of Nicaragua President Rev. Marvin Donaire sign a protocol agreement May 13 in Chinandega, Nicaragua. Also signing the document, which allows for expansion of mission work in that country, was the Rev. Leonardo Neitzel, a representative of Lutheran Church—Canada. (LCMS Church Relations)

The agreement outlines how the LCMS, LCC and ILSN will communicate, coordinate and work together in this mission endeavor. The agreement is not altar and pulpit fellowship, but a working understanding on how the three parties will interact.

The LCMS plans to send a pastor and deaconess to Nicaragua to provide spiritual care for church workers. The LCMS also will be supporting new church plants in Honduras and Costa Rica.

Signing the agreement were the Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III, director of LCMS Church Relations and Regional Operations; ILSN President Rev. Marvin Donaire; and the Rev. Leonardo Neitzel, assistant to the LCC president for Missions and Social Ministry Services.

Also attending the signing were the Rev. Ted Krey, LCMS regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Rev. Edmund Auger, an LCMS missionary in Honduras and Nicaragua.

“The Lutheran church in Nicaragua is a wonderful church body who truly desires to be Lutheran,” Collver said. “The attitude and desire of the ILSN reflects the good work done by Lutheran Church—Canada. The LCMS and her missionaries are privileged to work with the LCC and the ILSN.

“In fact, this reflects the strategic plan of the LCMS Office of International Mission to work with our church partners to increase one another’s capacity and to avoid duplication of efforts.”

LCC President Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee praised the agreement.

“This agreement among [the] Missouri Synod, LCC and ILSN is a huge encouragement to all of us who care about a faithful Lutheran presence and outreach in Central America,” he said. “When partners refrain from duplicating each other’s efforts in a given country, but instead coordinate resources and consult intentionally, the capacity of each partner is deepened greatly. I thank God for the intensified cooperation between LCMS and LCC in recent years, and hope this Nicaraguan agreement will be an inspiration to other biblical Lutheran churches to work together in many parts of the world.”

The ILSN has 12 pastors, 26 deaconesses, 12 vicars and 13 deaconess interns. It has 22 congregations, four missions, two church plants in Honduras, which are funded by the LCMS, two mission plants in Costa Rica and a seminary. Instructors come from the ranks of LCC pastors, and especially from the faculty of Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, Ontario.

The Nicaraguan church body was formed as a result of a decade of LCC mission work. In 2008 the LCC approved formal altar and pulpit fellowship with the ILSN.

Collver said per LCMS Bylaw 3.9.5.2.2(d), the ILSN is considered a mission start until the church body requests to be recognized as a self-governing church body.

“Although this has occurred with the LCC, this process has not yet occurred with the LCMS,” Collver said. “Eventually, the LCMS will take a similar action to the LCC. In the meantime, as a mission start of an LCMS partner church with whom the LCMS is cooperating in the mission work, the LCMS is in de facto altar and pulpit fellowship, meaning that the ILSN is regarded for fellowship purposes as if it were an LCMS mission start.”

Posted May 23, 2014

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