On June 8, 2016, the Rev. Antonio Reyes, president of The Lutheran Church in the Philippines (LCP), and the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), signed a protocol agreement encouraging and strengthening the official relationship between the two church bodies. “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Ps. 133:1).
The LCMS began work in the Philippines in 1946, and the LCP became an LCMS partner church in 1971. The Lord has blessed the LCP with 23,000 baptized members and 190 congregations and preaching stations. The LCMS continues to support numerous projects within the LCP, including theological education, church planting and training conferences.
Reyes noted that the agreement does not create something new: “The signing only ratifies, declares and reminds the LCP and the LCMS of the fellowship and partnership that already exists.”
The Rev. Charles Ferry, LCMS area director for Southeast Asia, also noted the importance of the ongoing relationship between the two: “The Lutheran Church in the Philippines has been a treasured partner of the LCMS for many years, and we give thanks to God for their continued faithfulness to His Word, despite global pressures to bow to the culture of the times.”
The agreement reflects the need for mutual support against cultural pressures by holding to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. Reyes noted that the LCP welcomes the agreement as a “significant commitment” between the two church bodies. The churches agreed “to support each other and to work together in mission and to hold fast to the Scripture as the Word of God and the Lutheran Confessions as the correct exposition of the Word of God.”
Since the LCMS has supported theological education in the past, Ferry said that the LCP’s Lutheran Theological Seminary has an opportunity to play a vital role in Asian Lutheranism: “The LCP is uniquely positioned in Southeast Asia with their residential seminary, and I eagerly anticipate conversations that will explore the opportunities to serve not only each other, but the mission of Christ’s Church as He has given it to us.”
Recently, the Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill and the Rev. Robert Roethemeyer, professors from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., visited Lutheran Theological Seminary. They spoke with seminary professors and examined the library to explore ways the LCMS can further support theological education in the Philippines and Asia.
At the end of his comments, Ferry noted, “I am grateful for the recognition of the fellowship we’ve been given here, and pray for the LCP leaders even as I know they pray for us.”
Let us give thanks for this unity and pray to the Lord of the harvest that He would continue to preserve and strengthen the LCMS and the LCP in the Word of God and the Lutheran Confessions.
— Rev. Roy S. Askins, Director of Communications, Asia