By Adriane Dorr
PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. — Speaking on Nov. 2, the last day of the International Conference on Confessional Leadership here, the Rev. Dr. Gemechis Buba of the North American Lutheran Church encouraged global Lutherans to “be a praying church one more time.”
Buba presented on the topic of Witness (Martyria), urging leaders, “Don’t try to figure out missional strategies and plans. Jesus never outsourced missional leadership to anyone.” Instead, he said, “Ask. Be on your knees. Let us be a praying church one more time.” Witness work, he said, is only “in the hand of the Holy Spirit.”
Some 120 confessional leaders representing 20 million Lutherans around the world attended the three-day conference, journeying from countries such as Nigeria, Indonesia, Korea, Venezuela, Portugal, Czech Republic and Madagascar.
Buba reminded attendees that the struggles churches face today are not new. “The challenge of the Church of the first century and the challenge of the 21st century is the same,” he said. “The harvest is still plentiful. The workers are still few. The message is still the same: Law and Gospel, repentance and forgiveness, Law and Gospel.”
Buba encouraged Lutherans to “speak the Word of God fearlessly. That is our mission. Let us make a difference by speaking the Word faithfully, confidently and boldly.”
Speaking in response, the Rev. Wakseyoum Idosa, president of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, agreed, saying, “Mission is ultimately the work of the triune God. It is a ministry in which the Church is privileged to participate.”
“The future of Lutheranism is grounded in the promise of Christ,” Idosa said. “That is why it will continue.”
The Rev. Roberto Bustamante of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina noted in his response that “The Church has to run toward her future on her knees in repentance and confession over her sins,” humbled in the knowledge that “forgiveness springs out of the cross and the [Church’s] renewal comes through the resurrection of the Lord.”
Other conference speakers included the Rev. Dr. Alister McGrath of King’s College, London, and Bishop Emeritus Jobst Schšne of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany, as well as Lutheran pastors from Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America.
The conference ended with the Itinerarium, a brief service of the liturgy for those about to depart to travel. Attendees spoke the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer in their own language before closing in singing “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word.”
Adriane Dorr is managing editor of The Lutheran Witness.
Posted Nov. 2, 2012