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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Reformation in Geneva

The Reformation in Geneva was not of the Lutheran type, but was based upon the teachings of Jean Calvin. In fact, Martin Luther was seen by Calvin as only beginning the Reformation. Some in the Reformed Church referred to Martin Luther as a half-papists, indicating that he retained too many Roman Catholic practices, such as vestments, liturgy, et al. The photo tour below does not represent the history of the Lutheran Church, but of the Reformed Church, which provides the theological foundation for most other Protestant Churches (Presbyterians, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, et al).

At the Mur des Réformateurs (Wall of the Reformation), William Farell, John Calvin, Theodore Beze, and John Knox are pictured at the center of the wall (pictured in top panel above). Off to the left when facing the Wall of the Reformation, a carved stone with Luther's name appears. Off to the right when facing the Wall of the Reformation, a carved stone with Zwingli's name appears. From the perspective of the Reformed Church, both Luther and Zwingli are given credit for beginning the Reformation. However, the Reformed Church does not believe Luther or Zwingli, properly reformed the church, hence the need for Calvin, Beze, and others. This is why Luther and Zwingli are represented by stones but not carved into the wall. the Reformation Wall was constructed in 1909 for the 400th birthday of Calvin.

To the right (ordered from left to right) are 3 m-tall statues of: Roger Williams (1603 – 1684), Oliver Cromwell (1599 – 1657), Stephen Bocskay (1557 – 1607)?

To the left (facing the Wall, ordered from left to right) of the central statues are 3 m-tall statues of: William the Silent (1533 – 1584), Gaspard de Coligny (1519 – 1572), Frederick William of Brandenburg (1620 – 1688).

"The Wall is in the grounds of the University of Geneva, which was founded by John Calvin, and was built to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Calvin's birth and the 350th anniversary of the university's establishment. It is built into the old city walls of Geneva, and the monument's location there is designed to represent the fortifications', and therefore the city of Geneva's, integral importance to the Reformation." (From Wikipedia, The Reformation Wall is 100 meters long.

Not too far from the Reformation Wall is St. Pierre Cathedral. Before the Reformation, it was a Roman Catholic Cathedral whose origins date to the 4th century AD.

The inside of the cathedral is rather stark. The pre-Reformation ornamentation is gone, "reformed" away under Jean Calvin's instruction. Calvin preached here regularly until his death.

Rev. Ralph Mayan, President Emeritus of the Lutheran Church Canada (LCC) and interim-Executive Secretary for the International Lutheran Council (ILC) descends to the archeological dig beneath St. Pierre Cathedral.

The Baptistry dates from the 6th century AD.

Dr. Collver stands outside the hall where Jean Calvin lectured.

The marker identifies the location of the cathedral. The green area titled, "Les Bastions is the location of the Reformation Wall. To left is the location of Calvin's grave in Cimetière des Rois.

Outside the cathedral is a sign to the Reformation museum.

At the Reformation Museum, you can become Jean Calvin.

On the way to Calvin's grave, we passed the Great Synagogue (La Grande Synagogue), officially known as Synagogue Beth-Yaacov de Genève. It was built between 1857 - 1859.

The grave of Jean Calvin.

Close up of the plaque. Jean Calvin born 1509, died 1564.

The simple marker with the letters, J.C.

Geneva is not Wittenberg. The Reformed are not Lutherans, even if some views are held in common. Nonetheless, the Meeting between the ILC and LWR in Geneva provided the opportunity to visit some historic Reformed Reformation Sites.

- Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations
Posted in Geneva on 30 March 2012

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Location:Rue des Alpes,Geneva,Switzerland

Meeting Between The LWF and the ILC

Meeting Between The LWF and the ILC
Geneva, Switzerland
27 - 29 March 2012


International Lutheran Council: Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt, Chairman ILC; Rev. Ralph Mayan, Interim Executive Secretary of ILC; Rev Dr Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations (Invited Representative for the LCMS).

Lutheran World Federation: Rev. Martin Junge, General Secretary LWF, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile; Oberkirchenrat Norbert Denecke, General Secretary, German National Committee of the LWF; National Bishop Susan Johnson, Vice-President of the LWF -- North America, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; Rev Dr Muss Filibus, Director - Department for Mission and Development LWF, Lutheran Church in Nigeria; Rev Dr Kenneth Mtata, Study Secretary for Theology - Department for Theology and Public Witness LWF, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe; Rev Dr Patricia Cuyattii, Latin America Desk - Department for Mission and Development LWF, Lutheran Evangelical Church in Peru; Rev. dr Stephen Larson, Interim Coordinator - Department for Theology and Public Witness LWF, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The meeting was cordial and resulted in the helpful sharing of information. The LWF showed great hospitality to us.

An official statement regarding this meeting will be released jointly by the ILC and LWF in the near future.

-- Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, LCMS Director of Church Relations
29 March 2012

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Location:Route des Morillons,Grand-Saconnex,Switzerland

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Visit To The Ecumenical Center In Geneva

Dr. Collver and Bishop Voigt, Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK), stand in front of the Ecumenical Center in Geneva, Switzerland. The Ecumenical Center is owned by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and is the location of the headquarters for the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Representatives from the International Lutheran Council (ILC), Bishop Voigt, Dr. Ralph Mayan (Lutheran Church Canada), and Dr. Collver, came to Geneva to meet with representatives of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).

Entities that are located in the Ecumenical Center.

A crucifix inside the chapel at the Ecumenical Center.

The chancel at the chapel in the Ecumenical Center. The decor is eclectic primarily consisting primarily of influences from African, Eastern Orthodox, and Coptic churches.

Close up of the chancel.

The martyrdom of Stephen portrayed in the WCC chapel.

An African Cross in the lobby of the Ecumenical Center.

A banner about the Lutheran Church in Madagascar.

Member Churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC)

The outside of the Ecumenical Center.

Tomorrow discussions continue with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). A future post will describe some of these discussions.

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

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Location:Rue de Fribourg,Geneva,Switzerland

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Consecration of Bishop Thor Henrik With in Norway

A new Bishop for Confessional Lutherans in Northern Norway
Bishop Thor Henrik With was consecrated Bishop of the independent Lutheran congregations in Northern Norway (Valgmenighetene i Nordnorge) in a Divine Service on Saturday, March 24, in Tromsø, Norway.

Serving as consecrators were Archibishop Walter Obare (center), the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya; Bishop Matti Väisänen (left), bishop of the Swedish Mission Province in Finland. Bishop Jobst Schoene (second from left), retired bishop of the Independent Lutheran Church of Germany (SELK); Chief Consecrator was Bishop Roland Gustafsson (right), chief bishop of the Mission Province.

Pastors and congregations of the deanery (circuit) left the Church of Norway in the 1970s when Pastor Børre Knudsen led a dramatic protest against the legalization of abortion. The Norwegian state sent him to prison, but the pastors and people made him their bishop. He served until last year, when advanced Parkinsonís disease, when he contracted while in prison, made it necessary for him to retired.

Bishop With has been a leader in the Bible and Confessions movement in Norway and he has been an active leader in the work of mission among the Sami peoples in the far north. The Mission Province provided spiritual and other support prior to the election of Bishop With.

Dr. Charles Evanson, LCMS Baltic States Theological Education Advisor, brought greetings from President Matthew Harrison and the Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod.

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Location:Tromsø, Norway

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Germans can't escape their Lutheran past

A fascinating article from the BBC.


Germans can't escape their Lutheran past

By Gavin Esler BBC Newsnight Anxieties among Germans about bailing out European partners have Lutheran echoes from the 16th Century.

I was walking across a bridge over the River Spree in the heart of Berlin, hoping for a rare meeting with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, when it occurred to me that there was a strange coincidence about Germany and great European projects.

Exactly 500 years ago, one of Europe’s greatest thinkers was getting increasingly worried that good German money was being wasted.

Cash was heading to the Mediterranean, subsidising a bunch of badly behaved foreigners.

The 16th Century German thinker was Martin Luther and he was desperate to stay part of that great European project known as the Roman Catholic Church, but equally desperate not to support those who were ripping off German believers to pay to build St Peter’s in Rome.

The unfairness of the abuses fed popular resentment until German patience finally snapped. Luther broke away from his beloved Catholic Church, “protesting” in that great rebellion we know as the creation of Protestant-ism, the Reformation.

Nowadays, Germans - even those who are Catholic or non-Christian - cannot escape the Lutheran past.

It’s also the Lutheran present. The most powerful woman in the world, Angela Merkel, is a Lutheran believer, the daughter of a pastor. The new German president, Joachim Gauck, is a former Lutheran pastor.

And that cliche of “the Protestant work ethic” - hardworking German taxpayers, even if they are not actually Protestant, continue to bail out the euro while being caught in a squeeze as acute as Luther in the 16th Century.

In their hearts, from Merkel to the car worker on the Volkswagen assembly line, the German people are desperate to be good Europeans, just as Luther was desperate to be a good Catholic.

Luther nailed his theses on to the church door in Wittenberg But in their heads, most Germans suspect there may be something wrong - something morally wrong as well as economically dangerous - about giving money to those who, in the German view, have been at best reckless and at worst dishonest.

In Luther’s home town of Wittenberg, just along from the church where in 1517 he nailed his famous 95 Theses rebelling against the Pope, members of the church choir practised their hymns and then told me that it was right for Lutherans to help other Europeans, a Christian virtue, but that the “other Europeans” needed to behave responsibly. And they had not behaved responsibly, which was, some said, increasingly irritating.

It was with the choir’s comments - and their hymns - still ringing in my ears that I walked over that bridge towards the chancellor’s office just across from the Reichstag.

Frau Merkel greeted me warmly, but in typical fashion told me directly that she rarely gave interviews, that my time was very limited, and we had better get on with it.

Our businesslike conversation reminded me of all those virtuous adjectives - pure Luther - that I learned in my first German lesson - sparsam, treu, ehrlich, ernst, streng - thrifty, straight, honest, serious, strict.

In fact, the pastor’s daughter from Hamburg sitting in front of me sounds exactly like the grocer’s daughter from Grantham - Margaret Thatcher. Their values - and their view of home economics - could almost be interchangeable.

I suggested to her that when she talks of thriftiness and responsibility (which she does a lot) then many British people will agree with her, which is why so many Britons are sceptical about the euro and suspect it might fail.

Those thrifty Germans are bailing out those who have shown no talent for thrift in the past. This, of course, was an argument Mrs Merkel - the Good European - cannot really accept.

Despite the legacy of the war, the divisions of the euro, and the cliches in British and German tabloid newspapers, I left the Chancellery thinking how much Britain and Germany really have in common.

On the way out, I watched the chancellor of Germany inspect a military guard of honour - soldiers marching with Prussian precision in defence of a young German democracy, a new Germany, really just 20 or so years old.

I was struck by Mrs Merkel’s political genius - quiet, cautious, the Hausfrau of her nation, so unlike the noisier, catastrophic male German leaders of the first half of the 20th Century.

The puzzle now is when her political decision to be a good European collides with her Lutheran conscience not to reward bad behaviour or be reckless with money.

I wondered whether for Frau Merkel, like Martin Luther, another reformation in Europe might be on the cards - not tomorrow, perhaps, but one day.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

LCMS and GKLI Discussions

Pictured -- LCMS: Rev. Daniel Preus, Fourth Vice-President; Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations; Mr. Darin Storkson, LCMS Southern Asia Regional Director. GKLI: The Rt Rev Aladin Sitio, Bishop; The Rev. Jon Albert Saragih, Secretray General; The Rev. Manahan Saragih, Pastor, Consistory Member; Vicar Simson Siregar, Assistant to the Bishop.

The Gereja Kristen Luther Indonesia (GKLI) – Indonesian Lutheran Christian Church split off from the Huria Kristen Batak Protestant (HKBP) – Protestant Christian Batak Church in 1965. The first and founding bishop, Rev. J. Sinaga, of the GKLI was a former pastor in the HKBP. After he attended Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, MN, in 1957. He returned to Indonesia with a new appreciation of Lutheranism and became increasingly frustrated with the influences of modernization and secularization upon the HKBP. He made attempts to reform the HKBP. Because of the secularization that came upon the HKBP in 1958, he wanted to return the church to pure Lutheran doctrine. In 1950 the HKBP had written its own confession, “The Confession of Faith of the Huria Kristen Batak Protestant,” (adopted 28 to 30 November 1958).

Rev. Sinaga’s attempts at reform were not received by the HKBP and he was excommunicated. The pastors and members who were sympathetic to Rev. Sinaga’s attempts decided to leave with him, even though the GKLI was not yet formed. They separated themselves from the HKBP, and eventually founded a movement within the HKBP, called the HKBP-Lutheran. (This might be considered akin to the Swedish Mission Provence today.) There was not originally an intention to begin a new church body. But HKBP forbad them from using the name HKBP-Lutheran. Like Martin Luther after reform failed, Pastor Sinaga felt compelled to form a new church body known as the Gereja Kristen Luther Indonesia (GKLI) – Indonesian Lutheran Christian Church, 18 May 1965. His efforts to return the HKBP to a more Lutheran orientation.

The basis for the teaching of the he Gereja Kristen Luther Indonesia (GKLI) – Indonesian Lutheran Christian Church is the Augsburg Confession. Rev. Sinaga translated the Augsburg Confession into Batak (not Indonesian because most of the members were not proficient in Indonesian at the time) in 1958.

The current GKLI constitution, Article II – Titled Faith, “The GKLI believes in the Triune God as revealed in Holy Scripture and confesses that the Old Testament and New Testament are the sole sources for the teaching and order of the true Church and confesses that the three ecumenical creeds, the unaltered Augsburg Confession, and the Small and Large Catechisms of Luther are correct interpretations of the Word of God.”

So while initially the founding bishop was alone in his efforts, he started an informal school for teaching and training Lutheran pastors. This eventually became the GKLI seminary that is in operation to this day. In March 2012 about 50 students attend the GKLI seminary: 20 are men and preparing for the Holy Ministry; 30 are women training for other church work. The seminary has 10 professors / lecturers. For many years the Norwegian Lutheran Church has assisted the GKLI, particularly in the area of theological education.

Juanita S. studied at the GKLI seminary to be a church musician. She would like to serve as a deaconess.

The GKLI has been aware of the LCMS for many years. The Lutheran Witness and the Reporter reached members of the GKLI 20 or more years ago. The GKLI has had the unexpressed desire to have discussions and fellowship with the LCMS for quite sometime. One pastor mentioned that we have been waiting for more than 15 years for contact with the LCMS. The Secretary General of the GKLI said that today is a historic day that will be remembered 100 years from now, that is, the discussions between the LCMS and GKLI.

A picture of LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison with Bishop Aladin Sitio appears on the cover of the April - June 2012 GKLI Preaching Journal, "Evangelium."

As of March 2012, the GKLI has 90 Congregations, 24 Circuits, 30 Pastors, and 17,000+ Members. The GKLI voted unanimously to be in fellowship with the LCMS in November 2011.

Mr. Darin Storkson, LCMS Regional Director of Southern Asia and Bishop Aladin Sitio. Darin Storkson laid much of the ground work for the discussions between the GKLI and the LCMS. He also interpreted between Indonesian and English for our discussions.

17 March 2012

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

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Location:Jalan Sisingamangaraja,Medan,Indonesia

Friday, March 16, 2012

Indonesia, Luther Academy, and GKLI

Revs. Charles Henrickson and Daniel Preus present for Luther Academy to Indonesian pastors on the topic of "The Two Kingdoms."

My trip to Indonesia for discussions between the LCMS and the Gereja Kristen Luther Indonesia (GKLI) – Indonesian Christian Lutheran Church corresponded with a Luther Academy event on the two kingdoms in Medan. This fortuitous correspondence allowed Rev Daniel Preus, the fourth vice-president of the LCMS, to participate in the discussions with the GKLI. The GKLI began in 1965 as a breakaway from the Huria Kristen Batak Protestant (HKBP) – Protestant Christian Batak Church. The GKLI has the Augsburg Confession as the basis of its confession.

Presentation of greetings and presentation of gifts from the LCMS to Bishop Aladin and the GKLI.

Mr. Darin Storkson, Dr. Albert Collver, Bishop Aladin, Rev. Daniel Preus, Rev. Charles Henrickson are pictured after receiving the traditional Indonesian gift for prosperity, the ulos.

A plaque commemorating the occasion of our visit.

Matins was used for worship, including the Te Deum in Indonesian.

Discussions continued on Saturday.

Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations

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Location:Jalan Sisingamangaraja,Medan,Indonesia

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Around Medan -- Houses of Worship

With the call to prayer from a muezzin at a nearby mosque awaking us from sleep before sunrise, we had an early breakfast around 6 am and then the opportunity to go around Medan on a becak (a cycle rickshaw). Although becaks are banned by law in Jakarta, they are quite popular in Medan (and in the slums of Jakarta). Riding through Medan on a becak is a great way to experience Medan, see the sites, and smell the city.

Darin Storkson, Regional Director of the South Asia Region, negotiates with the becak driver for transport around Medan.

Medan has few places that would be called tourist attractions. Most of the buildings of colonial Dutch architecture have either fallen into disrepair or have been torn down to make room for modern buildings such as parking garages or malls. One of the most impressive buildings architecturally is the Great Mosque, which was our first stop.

Outside the gates of the Great Mosque, which was built in 1906. The domes are supposed to symbolize the vaults of heaven.

The minaret is the tallest part of the mosque. Historically, the minaret developed in the 7th century to put mosques on pair with the bell towers of Christian churches.

Collver stands outside the mosque in Medan. Nearby the mosque is a cemetery, which is not a common occurrence. After visiting the mosque, we stopped at the St. Mary Cathedral.

Medan was established as an Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church in 1961.

The side of the cathedral in Medan.

A statue of the Virgin Mary above the entryway to the cathedral.

The sanctuary adorned for Lent.

The crucifixion of Jesus portrayed in the sanctuary.

Inside the hymnal of the Medan archdiocese is Lutheran pastor, Paul Gerhardt's hymn, "O Haupt voll Blut und Wunded," ("O Sacred Head Now Wounded") in Indonesian. The title in Indonesian reads, "O Bloody Head." A small Lutheran influence on the Roman Catholic church.

Tomorrow, we will look at the Lutheran church in North Sumatra (Medan).

Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations

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Location:Jalan Sisingamangaraja,Medan,Indonesia