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.
On the one hand, the aim was to convey the basics of the history of dialogue and the great results of recent years. A basic presentation by Dr Frank Zeeb on the history of the ecumenical movement and the main participants at world level (WCC, Catholic Church and world church alliances) on Monday was followed by a presentation by Prof. Jennifer Wasmuth on dialogue with Orthodoxy on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Prof. Theodor Dieter spoke about the dialogues with the Roman Catholic Church, paying particular attention to the "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" (1999) and its origins. On Thursday, Prof Sarah Hinlicky Wilson joined us online from Tokyo to report on the encounters with the Pentecostal churches, a topic of growing importance, but also with some special features. The Webinar concluded on Friday with Prof. Dieter, who reported on the dialogue with the Mennonites, in particular on the "Healing of memories" (2010), which he played a key role in creating. The contributions had been sent in advance by video and in writing, which made it much easier for the participants to prepare and certainly contributed to the fact that the discussion was extremely lively and committed.
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!