This study course for Lutheran pastors and advanced students serves as an introduction to the history and theology of ecumenism from a Lutheran perspective and aims to help participants to put into practice the Lutheran self-understanding “To be Lutheran is to be ecumenical” in their very contexts. Again, it took place online from October 10-15. The 13 participants from Nigeria, the US, Cameroon and Peru were highly engaged in listening, studying und discussing.
The first aim was to provide basics about the history of ecumenical dialogue and the great results it has achieved in recent years. A basic presentation by Dr. Frank Zeeb on the history of the ecumenical movement and the main participants at the world level (WCC, the Catholic Church, and the Christian World Communions) on Monday was followed by a contribution by Prof. Jennifer Wasmuth on dialogue with the Eastern Orthodox. On Wednesday, Prof. Theodor Dieter gave a presentation on dialogues with the Roman Catholic Church, with special reference to the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” (1999) and its genesis. On Thursday, Prof. Sarah Hinlicky Wilson joined us from Tokyo to report on the encounters with the Pentecostal churches, a topic of growing importance, but also with some unique features unlike other dialogues. On Friday, Prof. Dieter, reporting on the dialogue with the Mennonites, especially on the “Healing of memories” (2010), in the creation of which he was substantially involved, brought the conference to a close. The contributions had been sent in advance both by video and in writing, which greatly facilitated the preparation of the participants and certainly contributed to the fact that the discussion in each case was extremely lively and engaged. One participant summed up the discussions.
The second half of each day was devoted to communication among the participants: two to three participants presented themselves, their church, and ecumenical contexts. Here it became clear how diverse the different contexts are in which Lutheran church lives, in very different theological and ecumenical settings. The presentations were followed by a very lively question and discussion. In the encounter of people from different parts of the world, cultures and contexts, contacts and networks could thus emerge across all borders, leading to sustainable relationships between people from different churches.
One participant emphasized in summing up: „It was very helpful. I really appreciate the thoughts on how to continue together despite our differences. It's a difficult task with many challenges but by the grace of Christ who prayed for the unity of the Church, we shall move us together to upliftment of his name and Kingdom here on earth.”
The next Study Course will take place from October 23-27, 2023. Cordial invitation!