ACCRA, Ghana — The International Lutheran Council (ILC) accepted four new member church bodies — the most at any one time — during its 22nd international conference here Sept. 24-30.
The ILC is an association of 34 confessional Lutheran church bodies from six continents that promote proclamation of the Gospel in accordance with the inspired and infallible Scripture, as confessed in the Lutheran Confessions.
The new member church bodies are The American Association of Lutheran Churches, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya, the Evangelical Lutheran Church — Peru, and the Portuguese Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The council elected and installed LCMS President Gerald B. Kieschnick as ILC chairman and Dr. Reginald Quirk — chairman of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England — as secretary.
Kieschnick succeeds Dr. Ralph Mayan, president of Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC), who served as ILC chairman for the past nine years and who has announced that he will not stand for re-election to the LCC presidency.
The council reappointed as its executive secretary Dr. Samuel H. Nafzger, who is executive director of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations. Nafzger has served as ILC executive secretary since its formation in 1993.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana hosted the conference, at which 27 ILC-member churches were represented, along with invited guests from eight other Lutheran church bodies.
In addition to admitting new church body members, the council acted on a number of resolutions, including those that:
- authorize that its vice chairman will now be chosen by the executive committee from representatives of the world areas also elected to the executive committee — leaders of Lutheran church bodies in Nigeria, Germany, Korea, Brazil, the Philippines, and Canada. Previously, the vice chairman was elected by all those representing ILC member churches at the international conference.
- agree with the conclusion of an ILC task force that the council “maintain its present model” as “an evangelical approach to inter-church relations that has been working well for member churches.” The task force — called for in a resolution of the 2005 ILC conference in Berlin and appointed by the executive committee — studied a number of potential models for the council’s future.
- initiate a new three-year cycle for the council beginning next year, with regional meetings to be held the first year, the international conference the next year, and a theological (or “seminary”) conference in the third year. Until now, international and regional conferences have been held every two years and three theological conferences have occurred since 2001 –- the most recent one earlier this year in South Africa.
- designate Concordia Historical Institute, St. Louis, as the official repository for the ILC archives.
- adopt “principles” for member-church assessments to meet the ILC’s budget.
- “encourage faithful practice of member churches in matters of church fellowship.”
- merge ILC world areas of Southeast Asia and East Asia into a single world area, for ILC representation.
“Living as reconciled children of God” was the theme for this year’s international conference, with 2 Cor. 5:18 as its scriptural basis.
Daily Bible study and devotions led by ILC-member church leaders addressed the theme.
Also, Ted Kober, founder and president of Ambassadors of Reconciliation of Billings, Mont., offered the keynote address and daily presentations on the topic.
“Everyone there was deeply moved by Ted’s presentations, especially his emphasis on the need for confession and absolution, at home and in our church bodies,” Nafzger said. “The presentations were outstanding — helping this to be a very positive conference.”
In his report, Nafzger quoted from his 2005 report to the conference, saying, “I am convinced now more than ever that there is a pressing need ‘for the truly confessional Lutheran churches from around the world to stand together in witness to the beautiful Gospel message of the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ — and in Him alone.’
“Today, more than ever,” he said, “there is a need that we support one another and nurture relationships with each other that show this conviction.”
The next ILC conference is being planned for Korea in 2009. Later conferences will be scheduled in line with the newly-approved three-year cycle.
Information for this article was compiled by Dr. Dieter Reinstorf, vice president of the Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa.
Posted Oct. 11, 2007