In addition to research, an important task of the Institute is the further education and training of Lutheran theologians from all over the world in ecumenical issues. This is the purpose of the annual webinar "Studying Ecumenism in Strasbourg", to which pastors and advanced students are invited to reflect on the history and theology of ecumenism from a Lutheran perspective and to get familiar with the major dialogues between Lutherans and other denominations. In addition, the webinar aims to help participants to implement the Lutheran self-understanding in their respective contexts: "To be Lutheran is to be ecumenical" – and of course it is also about meeting people and getting to know other church contexts. This year's course (from 23-27 October) was attended by 22 participants from a total of 13 countries from all continents.
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.
Each day, some participants were also asked to introduce themselves, their church and the ecumenical contexts. Here it became clear how diverse the various contexts are in which the Lutheran church lives, in very different theological and ecumenical environments.
One participant summarised the seminar with the words: "God is using the Institute as an instrument of peace in the world and the work it does is holy."
The next Study Course is scheduled for October 2024. Further information will be announced at a later date. You are cordially invited to participate.