Stronger mutual understandings of doctrine, mission and charity among member churches of the International Lutheran Council (ILC) are among the challenges formulated by Rev. Hans-Jörg Voigt, who has assumed responsibilities as chairman of the confessional Lutheran association.
Voigt is bishop of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK). Voigt’s chairmanship and the appointment of Dr. Ralph E. Mayan, former president of Lutheran Church-Canada (LCC), as executive secretary were among changes enacted by the ILC Executive Committee during its Oct. 25-27 meeting in Wittenberg, Germany.
The changes were published in the November issue of ILC News. Under terms of the ILC constitution, Voigt moved from vice chairman to chairman after the former ILC chairman, Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, was not re-elected president of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
The former executive secretary, Dr. Samuel Nafzger, who was LCMS director of church relations in the Kieschnick administration, submitted his resignation in September. The formal transition in the executive secretary post from Nafzger to Mayan will take place at meetings scheduled in late February in St. Louis.
The changes mark the first time that no LCMS representative has served as an ILC officer or in an executive staff position since the ILC was formally organized as an association of confessional Lutheran church bodies in 1993. The ILC’s formation as a “council” followed many years of meeting as a loosely organized conference dating back to 1952. The ILC now has 34 participating church bodies.
“It is a new day for the ILC,” said Dr. Albert Collver, who succeeded Nafzger as LCMS director of church relations. “The ILC always has been a council of independent churches but now it is more clearly manifest as our partner churches take the leadership of the ILC executive committee,” he said.
In an editorial in the November ILC News, Voigt cited four challenges to the future of the ILC. First on his list was the joint presentation of the ILC foundation of teaching on the basis of the Lutheran Confession under focal points of mutual understanding of the sacraments, Scripture and doctrine. He also cited strengthening of the community of ILC member and guest churches, developing a mutual understanding of mission and charity, and ecumenical contacts according to ILC guidelines.
The ILC executive committee meeting also appointed Dr. Robert Bugbee, LCC president, as vice chairman and Rev. Jonas Flor, president of the Portuguese Evangelical Lutheran Church, to succeed Voigt as the European region representative.
In his editorial, Voigt thanked Kieschnick “for his untiring commitment for international confessional Lutheranism” and extended wishes “for God’s blessings and guidance on all his ways.” Voigt also expressed his delight that new LCMS President Rev. Matthew C. Harrison attended the October meeting and expressed prayer that the Holy Spirit guide him as the president of the largest ILC member church.
Dr. Reginald Quirk was appointed ILC News editor, succeeding Rev. Peter Ahlers. Quirk is preceptor of Westfield House, Cambridge, the institute of theological studies of the Evangelical Lutheran of England. Ahlers, the former president of the Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod of South Africa, retired from the editorship after serving 11 years. ILC News is published four times a year and is posted in English and Spanish on the ILC website (www.ilc-online.org).
During the executive committee meeting, ILC church representatives planted trees in the Luther Garden of the Lutheran World Federation in Wittenberg. The planting was intended to be seen as a token of the connection between the LWF and ILC and their joint roots in the Lutheran Reformation, according to Voigt.
“It is my intention to further strengthen the trust between both Lutheran world organizations as much as possible,” Voigt was quoted in an SELK news release published in the ILC News.
Posted Jan. 6, 2011