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Thursday, October 27, 2011


[caption id="attachment_1889" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="ACNA-LCMS Dialogue III at Walther Library"][/caption] The third dialogue between the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) on "Contemporary Issues Facing the Church in North America," began on 27 October 2011 on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne. Presentations engaged the question of the ordination of women to the office of Holy Ministry and on other challenges facing the church such as post-humanism and trans-humanism. The first dialogue, held 10-11 November 2010 in Saint Louis at Concordia Seminary, focused on the historical backgrounds of the ANCA and the LCMS. The second dialogue, held 12-13 May 2011 held in Bluebell, PA at the Reformed Episcopal Seminary, focused on the question of authority, both Scriptural authority and ecclesial authority. Participants from the Anglican Church in North America (ANCA) included: Dr. Grant LeMarquand, Professor of Biblical Studies and Mission at Trinity School for Ministry, Dr. Jonathan Riches, Assistant Academic Dean and Associate Professor of Liturgics and Theology at the Reformed Episcopal Seminary, and Bishop Ray Sutton, Diocese of Mid-America, REC/ACNA and Chair of Ecumenical Relations Task Force (ACNA). Participants from the LCMS included: Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, President, Dr. Frederic Baue, Pastor Emeritus, Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations, Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, Executive Director of the CTCR, Dr. Lawrence Rast, President of Concordia Theological Seminary, and Rev. Larry Vogel, Associate Executive Director CTCR. Participants from the LCC included, Dr. John Stephenson [caption id="attachment_1890" align="aligncenter" width="315" caption="Dr. John Stephenson Preaching in Kramer Chapel"][/caption] Rev. Dr. John Stephenson, Professor of Historical Theology at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary Brock University of the Lutheran Church – Canada (LCC), preached in Kramer Chapel on Matthew 15:1-9. After lunch, the group toured the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary. [caption id="attachment_1891" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="ACNA-LCMS Group Touring CTSFW Campus"][/caption] While there are many areas of agreement between the ACNA and the LCMS, there also are differences. The dialogue has taken an open and honest approach in recognizing differences between the church bodies. President Harrison noted that Herman Sasse said that there is more fellowship between Christians who honestly disagree with one another than with Christians who gloss over or who agree to disagree about their differences. At 7 PM, there will be an Open Forum, featuring President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS and Dr. Jonathan Riches of the Reformed Episcopal Seminary, speaking about contemporary issues facing the church. The public is invited to attend the open forum. Some photos from the dialogue. The agenda for the dialogue is posted below: Dialogue III Schedule-final

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Theological Dialogue with Other Christian Church Bodies

In light of the third installment of dialogue between the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), October 27–28, which focuses on "Contemporary Issues Facing the Church in North America," it is good to consider the new document produced by CTCR staff titled, "Theological Dialogue with Other Christian Church Bodies." The document explores why it is good to engage in theological discussion with other church bodies, even if immediate fellowship is not foreseen. President Harrison requested the CTCR staff to study whether it is permissible and beneficial for the LCMS to engage in such discussions with other Christians. The result is the document below. -- Rev. Albert B. Collver, Director of Church Relations Theological Dialogue With Other Christian Church Bodies-Adopted 09-17-11

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Liberia — The Lord Builds When It Appears All Is Torn Down


The "writing" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer for 23 October -- Saint James, Brother of Our Lord --  from the Treasury of Daily Prayer reminds us that Christ alone builds His Church, even when it appears the Church is being destroyed. Bonhoeffer writes:
It is not we who build. Christ builds the church. No man builds the church but Christ alone. Whoever is minded to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it; for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it. We must confess – he builds. We must proclaim – he builds. We must pray to him – that he may build. We do not know his plans. We cannot see whether he is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are times of collapse are for him the great times of construction. It may be that the times which from a human point of view are great times for the church are times when it is pulled down. It is a great comfort which Christ gives to his church: you confess, preach, bear witness to me and I alone will build where it pleases me. Do not meddle in what is my province. Do what is given to you to do well and you have done enough. But do it well. Pay no heed to views and opinions. Don't ask for judgments. Don't always be calculating what will happen. Don't always be on the lookout for another refuge! Church, stay a church! But church, confess, confess, confess! Christ alone is your Lord; from his grace alone can you live as you are. Christ builds.
– Treasury of Daily Prayer, pg. 840-841.
Reading this passage about how Christ builds His Church even when it appears it is being torn down, reminded me of the story told by Bishop Bolay of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia.

Bishop Amos Bolay and Dr. Collver
 Bishop Bolay recently requested that fellowship discussions begin between the Evangelical Lutheran Church of LIberia and the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. As part of the preliminary discussions, Bishop Bolay told of the founding of Liberia in 1820 by former slaves from the United States. He mentioned that the people of Liberia think of themselves as being a part of the United States. He also mentioned that the Lutherans of Liberia consider themselves to be a part of the MIssouri Synod.

Bishop Bolay told how LCMS missionaries came to Liberia in the late 1970s and through their work a Lutheran church was established. Then in 1989 a civil war, known as one of the bloodiest in African history,  broke out in Liberia. The LCMS missionaries had to leave the country. By external appearances the 15 or so Lutheran congregations looked to be lost to the civil war. However, the Liberian civil war, which brought much harm and evil, was used by the Lord for good. The dispersion of Lutherans during the civil war actually spread the church by putting people in contact with others. Now 20 years or so later, the Lutheran church in Liberia is around 140 congregations. What from a human standpoint appeared to be a time of tearing down was used by the Lord for the construction of His Church. May the Lord continue to build his Church! -- Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, Director of Church Relations

 * The picture of the falling steeple came from a book published in 1903 called Careers of Danger and Daring. The photo is from the chapter about "steeple climbers."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Prague conference draws Lutheran leaders from 20 countries

Prague conference draws Lutheran leaders from 20 countries
By Albert B. Collver III
By the close of an Oct. 4-7 theological conference in Prague hosted by the LCMS president's office, many of the 71 Lutheran leaders attending from 20 countries said they appreciated that opportunity to encourage and support mutual conversatiprague.gifon and exchange of ideas for promoting confessional Lutheranism where they serve.

For instance, Rev. Alexey Streltsov, rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Siberia, said, "Such conferences are truly needed if we want ... authentic world Lutheranism to survive in the 21st century. We cannot just sit back and observe how things deteriorate in the world around us. Sharing with each other how we can continue to be faithful in the proclamation of the Gospel in the present context is important if we want ... our beloved Lutheran church not to fall prey to the alien winds of today's aberrations."

Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin of the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church commented, "Such conferences are especially important to us who live at the end of the earth, because they turn the virtual brotherly fellowship into real fellowship."

Lutheran leaders at the conference came from the following countries: England, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Sweden, Norway and the United States.

Dr. Jaromír Neumann, chairman of the Luther Society in Prague, officially greeted attendees who gathered under the conference theme of "Lutheranism in the 21st Century" and provided an introduction on the Reformation in Prague.

Plenary speakers who addressed challenges and opportunities for Lutheranism included the following: LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison; the Rev. Dr. Michael Albrecht, senior editor of Logiaand pastor of St. James Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minn.; the Rev. Dr. Charles Evanson, a theological educator for the LCMS Office of International Mission; the Rev. James Krikava, an Evangelical Lutheran Synod pastor and former missionary to the Czech Republic; the Rev. Dr. Makito Masaki, president of the Kobe Lutheran Seminary in Japan; the Rev. Dr. Darius Petkunas, a docent on the theology faculty at Helsinki University in Finland; the Rev. Dr. Stanislav Pietak, bishop emeritus of the Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in the Czech Republic; the Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, dean of International Studies at Concordia Theological Seminary (CTS), Fort Wayne, Ind., and director of theological education for the LCMS Office of International Mission; the Rev. Dr. Lawrence Rast, president of the Fort Wayne seminary; the Rev. Dr. Jobst Schone, bishop emeritus of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Germany; Rev. Fredrik Sidenvall, rector of L.M. Gymnasium in Gothenburg, Sweden; and Streltsov.

Although this was the first international theological conference hosted by the LCMS president's office, it followed in the tradition of the Klaipeda Conferences previously sponsored by CTS in Fort Wayne.  That made it the ninth international theological conference in the Synod within recent years.

The conference in Prague was hosted in cooperation with the Rev. David Jurech, interim superintendent of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in the Czech Republic and the Luther Society.

Quill noted that this is the first time the Fort Wayne seminary had worked in partnership with the LCMS president's office and the LCMS Office of Church Relations.

"President Harrison's very presence [at the conference], plus his bold and positive presentation made it clear to all that the LCMS is committed to supporting a vigorous international confessional Lutheran movement," Quill said. Harrison's presentation was on a "Vision for World Lutheranism."

Harrison also preached on Matt. 17:1-8 for a conference worship service. His sermon was titled "They saw no one but Jesus." For a video of his sermon, go to

Prague is not known as a Lutheran stronghold and might seem to some as an odd choice for the conference venue until one recalls the history of Central Europe.

The Hussite and Utraquist movements, which began in the Czech lands, preceded the Reformation in some ways. Jan Hus, a priest and professor in Prague, was burned at the stake in 1415 for teaching against indulgences and for his teaching that the Lord's Supper should be distributed in both kinds.

It was reported that as Hus was being burned alive, he said, "Today you are burning a goose, but out of my ashes will be born a swan whom you will not burn."

"Hus" in Czech means "goose." The "swan" born from Hus's ashes was Martin Luther, who almost exactly 100 years after Hus's death posted the 95 Theses, beginning the Reformation.

The Czech people were sympathetic to the Lutheran Reformation. But unfortunately, the Reformation in Prague was eliminated in the Battle of White Mountain in 1620 during the Thirty Yearss War, which culminated in the execution of 27 nobles, some of whom were Lutherans. The Silesian parts of the Czech Republic and Poland also adopted the Lutheran Reformation early on and faced persecution similar to Lutherans in Prague.

Reflecting on that Lutheran history in the Czech lands, the Rev. Dr. David Birner, interim co-executive director of the LCMS Office of International Mission and first-time conference attendee observed, "The [conference] was an outstanding theological, cultural and historical experience. We met in a part of the world that is steeped in Reformation history."

The conference drew a number of other participants who had not previously attended one, including Lutherans from Hungary, the Czech Republic and Japan.

One participant of past conferences said that although he expected to see the same people in Prague as before, he was pleasantly surprised to experience the 2011 conference "invigorated by fresh voices."

Rast, who was installed Sept. 11 as president of CTS, said that although he had been to other similar theological conferences, "this one seemed to have its finger on the pulse of future opportunities.

"I am confident we can keep the momentum going," he said.

The momentum continued after the conference with the installation of the Rev. Tony Booker as pastor of the English-speaking Lutheran congregation in Prague.  Several conference attendees participated in that service. (See

A number of those at the Prague conference already are asking about when its papers will be published and are inquiring about the theme for the next conference.

It is hoped that such conferences will further strengthen the voice of confessional Lutheranism worldwide.

The Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III is the LCMS director of Church Relations -- assistant to the president. He was among those who delivered plenary presentations at the Prague conference.
Posted Oct. 19, 2011 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Seven Roses

Trader Joes ran a cartoon of Martin Luther in one of their recent ads.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Installation of Rev. Tony Booker at Saint Michael's in Prague

The Installation of Rev. Tony Booker
On Saturday, 8 October 2011, Rev. Tony Booker was installed as pastor of the Saint Michael's English congregation in Prague and missionary to Eurasia. Rev. Booker was called by the Board for International Mission (BIM) in June 2011 and was ordained in August. Prior to the call of Pastor Booker to the Saint Michael's English Congregation, the church had been served for the past five years by retired LCMS pastors. For the past year, Rev. Ronald Stehr has served the congregation. He is scheduled to return to the United States after his last service in Prague on 13 November 2011. Pastor Booker pending funding considerations hopes to arrive in Prague for full time service beginning in January 2012. During the interim period, the English Congregation will be served by another LCMS pastor located in Eurasia. For more information on assisting Rev. Booker please visit\Booker.

Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill preached the installation sermon.

Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill Preaching the
Installation of Rev. Tony Booker on John 20:19 - 31.
Dr. Quill's sermon is provided below.
John 20.19-31 Installation of Tony Booker in Prague

After the installation sermon, the service continued with the installation liturgy from the Lutheran Service Book Agenda.

Because Pastor Booker's installation occurred immediately following the Lutheran Theological Conference in Prague, several LCMS and partner church pastors were able to assist in the installation, including pastors from Russia and Kazakhstan.

Rev. Dr. Brent Smith in the foreground at Saint Michael's
Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill,
Rev. Tony Booker, and Rev. Dr. Larry Rast
You can see more information about Rev. Booker below.
Booker Czech Rep

-- Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Prague Conference Concluded

The Lutheran Theological Conference in Prague concluded on Friday noon. The speakers were well received. Better than the speakers, was the connections made between people. I am sitting at the airport in Prague as I try to dash off a few sentences. Yesterday Rev. Tony Booker was installed as pastor of the English congregation in Prague. A future post will feature some photos from that. All in all an excellent conference.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lutheran Theological Conference in Prague Group Photo

Group Photo of Participants at
Lutheran Theological Conference in Prague
6 October 2011

The Lutheran Theological Conference attendees gathered for a group photograph. Seated in the first row are Bishops and Presidents of church bodies who attended the conference (from left to right): Rev. Gijsbertus van Hattem, President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium (ELCB); Jobst Schöne, Bishop Emeritus of the Independent Lutheran Church (SELK) in Germany; Vsvelod Lytkin, Bishop of the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELC); Matthew C. Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod; Kenjebek Botobaev, Bishop Kyrgyzstan, Jonathan Ehlers, Chairman of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England (ELCE); David Jurech, Interim-Superintendent of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in the Czech Republic. (Not all participants were available for the photo.)

Participants represent twenty-one countries including England, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Japan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Czech Republic, Hungry, Slovakia, Poland, Sweden, Norway, and the United States.

-- abc3+

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Prague Conference and Vespers -- First Day

Attendees of the Lutheran Theological Conference in Prague
On 4 October 2011, the Lutheran Theological Conference in Prague, a.k.a. the Klaipėda Conference, began with attendees from twenty-one countries including England, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Japan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Czech Republic, Hungry, Slovakia, Poland, Sweden, Norway, and the United States. This is the ninth conference in the "Klaipėda" series. The Lutheran Theological Conference is co-sponsored by the Office of the LCMS President, Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations,  and Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, Dean of International Studies of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne. The theme for the Prague conference is Lutheranism in the 21st Century.

Rev. James Krikava Presents on Lutheran Mission in Czech Republic
Rev. James Krikava, an ELS pastor from Trinity Lutheran in Brewster, Massachusetts, presented on the history of both Christian and Lutheran mission to the Czech lands, focusing particularly on the Lutheran efforts after the fall of communism. Dr. Charles Evanson presented on Lutheran ecclesiology, while Rev. Michael Albrecht presented on Lutheran missions in India. After the lectures, the group returned to St. Michael's for vesper service.

Dr Collver Leads Vespers While President Harrison Prepares to Preach
The vesper service was from the Lutheran Service Book and featured hymn LSB 945, "Your Heart, O God, Is Grieved" by Juraj Tranovsky, the "slavic" Luther (click here to read a Lutheran Witness article about him) as a replacement for the kyrie. 

President Harrison preached on Matthew 17:1-8, "They saw no one but Jesus."

After the service, the conference attendees continued with fellowship. The second day of the conference is a full day beginning at 8:45 AM and concluding in the evening. Some additional photos are below.

St. Michael's from the Balcony

Stained Glass in St. Michael's

Jan Bygstad (Norway), Collver, Harrison

Monday, October 3, 2011

Prague Conference Schedule and Map

Crucifix on the Charles Bridge, Prague

Below is the Prague Conference Schedule and Map from the Hotel to St. Michael's to the Aventin Conference Center.

-- abc3+

Prague Conference Daily Schedule With Map Oct 2011

Tranovsky of Slovakia Lutheran Witness 1980

Jiří Třanovský

Here is a blast from the past. A Lutheran Witness Article about Juraj Tranovsky, also known as the "slavic Luther."

Tranovsky of Slovakia LW 1980

Prague Conference Map

Prague Theological Conference
4 - 7 October 2011

View Prague Theological Conference Map in a larger map

Best Western Páv To Saint Michael's Church
Best Western Páv

Total: 260 m – about 3 mins

Saint Michael's Church

Total: 270 m – about 3 mins
Purkyňova 53/4, 110 00 Praha 1-Nové Město, Czech Republic


PDF of Conference Map

4, 110 00 Praha 1-Nové Město, Czech Republic - Google Maps

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Brief Tour of Saint Michael's in Prague

Saint Michael's Church -- The south façade of the
church as visible from Opatovická street

Church of St. Michael (kostel sv. Michala) in Opatovice – V Jirachářích

The Church of St Michael (kostel sv. Michala) originally a Romanesque structure, is older than the New Town (Nové Mĕsto) itself, which started to evolve in the place of the fields and meadows, settlements and villages in 1348. 

It was evidently founded at the same time as the Settlement of Opatovice and a rectory stood here under the reign John of Luxemburg. It belonged to the Hussites during the Hussite Wars (1419), became the property of the Lutherans a hundred years later (1524), and then the Catholics after the Battleof White Mountain (1621). It was then bought by the German Lutheran Church in 1790 alter being abandoned. 

Window of Martin Luther

The German choir had a picture of Martin Luther created for the side window of the church in 1915. After the Second World War, the confiscated church was passed to the Prague choir of the Slovak Evangelic Church. The Gothic structure of the church dates hack to the last 25 years of the 14th century. 

Saint Michael's Prague

It was expanded and added to on a number of occasions, with its final re-Gothicisation dating back to 1914 – 1915 under the leadership of builder Štěpán Koloschek. 

Cross on the Outside of the Church
The old Romanesque church was pulled down sometime before 1369 and subsequently replaced with a new Gothic structure.

Pillar From Original Structure

An oblong nave was created with a flat ceiling and a prismatic tower to the west. The irregular presbytery is distinctive for its remarkable vaulting and is one of the most interesting religious structures in Prague and beyond. The asymmetric three- naved structure is externally unified by an orbiting, Baroque, main cornice. The Baroque extension of a staircase to the gallery sits next to the southern Gothic nave. The structure comes to a peak with its slender prismatic tower, which has Gothic core. The portal from the north is fitted with a fanlight, whose tracery was made up of a number of stylized nuns. The late-Rococo main altar (around 1770) remains the Gothic fittings. This was originally dedicated to St. Michael. 

Christ Blessing Elements
There is also a picture of Christ blessing bread and wine (1870). 

John the Baptism on the Baptismal Font

The baptismal font comes from around  the same time. 

Pipe Organ
The organ meanwhile, dates back to the second half the 19th century.

Rev. Tony Booker ( will be installed as pastor of the English service at St. Michael's in Prague.

Location of Saint Michael's in Prague.