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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mexico Lutheran Church (SLM)

Pictured: (back row) Rev. Arthur Rickman, Rev. Daniel McMiller, Rev. Ted Krey, Rev. Dr. Scott Murray, Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill; (front row) Rev. Dr. Lawrence Rast, Maria De Lourdes, President Alvaro Lopez Fajardo, Rev. Samuel Peréz.

Representatives of the Missouri Synod met with representatives from the Lutheran Synod of Mexico (SLM) on 16 December 2013 in Mexico City, Mexico. In the early 1980s, the LCMS largely withdrew work in Mexico. On 29 September 2013, the SLM sent a letter to President Harrison asking the Missouri Synod to resume and increase its partnership. The LCMS responded by sending Rev. Arthur Rickman to meet with church officials.

In the meetings SLM officials explained the challenges faced both in Mexico and in the Synod. Currently, the SLM has three ordained pastors. The SLM expressed a need for theological education leading to ordained pastors. They also expressed a need for increasing Lutheran identity, and the deacons and deaconesses. Dr. Scott Murray, 4th Vice President of the LCMS who attended the discussions, said of the meeting between SLM and the LCMS, "It was delightful to renew relationships that had gone fallow and to encourage a church body that felt orphaned. We discussed concrete action items for the future that were mutually agreed to. Through these opportunities we look forward to rebuilding our relationship as we walk together in the body of Christ."

In cooperation with the Luther Academy, the LCMS sponsored a conference for SLM pastors and laity. Rev. Roberto Bustamante from Concordia Seminary in Buenos Aries, Argentina, was the lecturer. His lectures are focusing on Lutheran identity and the theology of the cross.

The conference was held at the Lutheran Center of Mexico City. The Lutheran Center was built in the 1960s largely through the work of the Missouri Synod. As a result of the agreement, the Missouri Synod has a place at the table to discuss how the facility is used to promote Lutheranism in Mexico and Central America.

We look forward to the future of a closer partnership between the SLM and the Missouri Synod.

The SLM is in altar and pulpit fellowship with the Missouri Synod and a member of the International Lutheran Council (ILC).

- Posted by Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations and Executive Secretary of the ILC using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Cerrada de la Otra Banda,Álvaro Obregón,Mexico

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the International Lutheran Council (ILC) to Hold Informal International Dialogue

Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the International Lutheran Council (ILC) to Hold Informal International Dialogue

Vatican City, Rome, 18 November 2013 – The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the International Lutheran Council (ILC), an organization for the purpose of encouraging, strengthening, and promoting confessional Lutheran theology, met to discuss the possibility of extending local and regional informal discussions into an
informal ecumenical dialogue process on the international level. The meeting between the PCPCU and the ILC primarily occurred after several informal discussions between some ILC members and Roman Catholic organizations resulted in positive outcomes, especially those held between the Lutheran Theological Seminary Oberursel ( of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) ( and the Johann-Adam-Möhler Institute for Ecumenism ( in Paderborn, Germany. Other informal discussions that contributed to the meeting between the PCPCU and the ILC included those held between The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod ( and the Archdiocese of Saint Louis and the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, and those between Lutheran Church Canada (LCC) ( and representatives of the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Dicastery, and MonsignoreDr. Matthias Türk represented the PCPCU. Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt, Chairman, Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver, Executive Sectary, Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee, Vice-chairman, and Prof. Dr. Werner Klän, Lutheran Theological Seminary Oberursel, represented the ILC.

The discussion had three primary points: A Presentation of the International Lutheran Council (ILC) including its history and priorities, Ecumenical Relations between ILC members and the Roman Catholic Church, and Future Ecumenical Goals.

After a productive discussion, it was proposed that the local and regional informal discussions may be extended to an informal international dialogue process between the ILC and the Roman Catholic Church. These international series of consultations would be delegated to the ILC executive committee and to the Johann-Adam-Möhler Institute for Ecumenism. The goals of these discussions would be to define more unity between the churches represented by the ILC and the Roman Catholic Church and to offer a deeper understanding of the work already accomplished by the Lutheran – Roman Catholic dialogue on the international and regional level.

Cardinal Koch and Bishop Voigt expressed gratitude for the meeting and looked forward to a deepening of relationships between member churches of the ILC and the Roman Catholic Church.

The ILC and the Johann-Adam-Möhler Institute for Ecumenism after an organizational meeting, propose to hold two meetings a year for the next three years with the results of these discussions to be presented to the PCPCU.

About the International Lutheran Council

The ILC is a worldwide association of established confessional Lutheran church bodies, consisting of 34 member churches, which proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the basis of an unconditional commitment to the Holy Scriptures as the inspired and infallible Word of God and to the Lutheran Confessions contained in the Book of Concord as the true and faithful exposition of the Word of God. (

About the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

The Pontifical Council is entrusted with the promotion of Christian Unity. It carries out this task in liaison with the various departments of the Roman Curia and through ecumenical relationships and theological dialogues with the other Christian Churches and ecclesial Communities on the world wide level. (

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The SELK Headquarters

After spending time in Wittenberg, Germany, there was opportunity to visit the headquarters of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) in Hannover. SELK is a partner church with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) and also a member of the International Lutheran Council (ILC).

Hans-Jörg Voigt serves as the SELK bishop. He also serves as the chairman of the International Lutheran Council (ILC).

Bishop Voigt presented me with Preußische Union, lutherisches Bekenntnis und Prägungen, (Prussian Union, Lutheran Confession and Mould), which is the history of the independent Lutheran Church in Germany. It also is a part of the Missouri Synod's history, as it tells the story of Walther's allies in Germany. This common history is part of the bond that connects the LCMS and SELK together as sisters.

Bishop Voigt also shared his book, Lutherisch Abendmahl feiern (Celebrating the Lord's Supper as Lutheran). The book is framed around the theme: Prayers and reflections in preparation for the Holy Communion (Gebete und Betrachtungen zur Vorbereitung auf das heilige Abendmahl). Among the "reflections" provided by the book:

1. What I've always wanted to know about the Lord's Supper. (Was ich schon immer mal vom Abendmahl wissen wollte). This section included questions such as "How long does the body and blood of Christ remain in the bread and wine?", "Do Lutherans believe in the change [of the elements from bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ]?", "Can a person adore / venerate the body and blood of Christ?" and so forth.

2. Christ in me -- Reflections concerning Christ being with me (Christus in mir - Betrachtung über den mitgehenden Christus).

The booklet is very helpful and might be translated for use among ILC members.

It was good to visit the SELK headquarters in Hannover.

- Posted by Dr Albert Collver on 17 November 2013 using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Sprockhofer Straße,Lindwedel,Germany

Thursday, November 14, 2013

ILC and LWF Meeting in Wittenberg


​Rev. Martin Junge, the General Secretary of LWF
Rev. Dr. Nicholas Tai, Dean of Lutheran Theological Seminary, Hong Kong
​OKR Norbert Denecke, LWF German National Committee
​Rev. Dr. Kaisamari Hintikka, LWF Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Relations
​Rev. Dr. Carlos Bock, the Director of LWF Department for Mission and Development

​Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt, ILC Chairman
​Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, ILC Executive Secretary
​President Rev. James Cerdeñola
​President Rev. Gijsbertus van Hattem

Both the LWF and ILC are honoring the commitment they made for the executive committees of each organization to meet with one another as agreed in the memorandum of understanding from 3 March 2005.

Dr. Collver and General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge with Martin Luther

Both the LWF and ILC thanked one another and appreciated the frank conversation and transparency shown in the discussion. Both agreed that the conversation was valuable and looks forward to the next opportunity to gather. A desire was expressed to meet annually. The LWF will host the next meeting in Geneva on January 14, 2015.

On 14 November 2013, the ILC showed the LWF delegation the "Old Latin School" in Wittenberg. The ILC plans to have a regional office here once construction is completed.

The group saw the building construction and the newly poured concrete foundation.

The Old Latin School was built 18 years after Martin Luther's death. The book How Wittenberg Looked when Luther Lived describes the Old Latin School: "Eighteen years after Luther's death the situation changed insofar as under Mayor Heilinger, the father-in-law of Luther's son Martin, a new boys' school was built in the northwestern corner of the church square, thus replacing the old ossuary. It still exists today as the old high school (now Wattrodt's print shop), not, however, after having undergone many changes. – After this building was finished, the old girls' school was torn down and moved to the former boys' school which was called girls' school from then on. This caused some confusion among researchers who were unaware of this change."

The top photo shows the exposed wood beam from the Old Latin School. The historic records note that Bible verses and sections of the Small Catechism were written on the beams and exterior walls of the school. The lower photo shows what the reconstruction might look like. This photo is near Luther's house, the old Augustinian Monastery.

Pictured here is the Augustinian Monastery. Later this became the house of Martin and Katie Luther.

President James Cerdeñola and Dr Albert Collver enjoy the frosty Wittenberg morning at the old Elbe Gate.

We also visited the Luther Garden near the Castle Church, which is under reconstruction.

The Missouri Synod as well as other ILC partners have trees in the Luther Garden.

The Wittenberg Town Hall.

We visited both the ELCA Wittenberg Office and the LWF Wittenberg Office.

The visit to Wittenberg was very good and productive.

- Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver on 14 November 2013 using BlogPress from my iPhone


Monday, November 11, 2013

Old Latin School Update -- The Wittenberg Project

Today, while visiting Wittenberg, Germany, for an International Lutheran Council (ILC) meeting I had the opportunity to visit the Old Latin School being renovated by The Wittenberg Project. Rev. David Mahsman, an LCMS missionary,
is the project director for the International Lutheran Society of Wittenberg (ILSW), a RSO of the Missouri Synod, and is a joint venture between the LCMS,
The Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) and Concordia Publishing House.

Rev. David Mahsman pictured on 11 November 2013 inspects the construction / renovation work that began just a few weeks ago.

When we arrived today workers were excavating bones under the ground floor. The archeological excavation is required under German law when historic buildings are renovated.

The Old Latin School is adjacent to Saint Mary's City Church in Wittenberg. Saint Mary's is the church where Martin Luther served as preacher in addition to his duties at Wittenberg University. The Old Latin School was built in 1565 over top of the bone yard for Saint Mary's Church. Because of this the discovery of bones in the archeological excavation is not surprising.

Workers dump construction waste out of a third story window. The "white" mist in the lower picture is the result of the dust from the construction floating into the air.

Workers continue to excavate (top photo). The lower photo the elevator shaft being created for the renovated building.

The top photo shows the refuse being removed and dumped out of the third floor window. The lower picture is of an exposed beam from the original construction of the building. It is quite likely that as was the custom of the day that the beam would have been painted with a Bible verse or a section of the Small Catechism.

Although this door doesn't look like much, it likely dates from the original construction back in 1565. It will be restored and used in the building which, D.v., should open in the Spring of 2015.

Right now it appears as if much of Wittenberg is under construction as people prepare for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. Pictured above is the Prussian Tower in protective wrap that was added to the Castle Church where Martin Luther placed the 95 Theses in 1517.

Today, 11 November 2013, is fitting to visit Wittenberg as it is the baptismal birthday of Martin Luther, christened on 11 November 1483 and named after Martin of Tours. It was great to see the progress of the Wittenberg Project and the beginning of the restoration of the Old Latin School.

- Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert B Collver, Director of Church Relations, on 11 November 2013 using BlogPress from my iPhone.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Regarding "blogsbylutheransclutheran" Cn domain name and Internet Keyword

Dear Manager,

(If you are not the person who is in charge of this, please forward this to your CEO,Thanks)

This email is from China domain name registration center, which mainly deal with the domain name registration and dispute internationally in China.
We received an application from Huatong Ltd on November 4, 2013. They want to register " blogsbylutheransclutheran " as their Internet Keyword and " blogsbylutheransclutheran .cn "、" blogsbylutheransclutheran " 、" blogsbylutheransclutheran "、" blogsbylutheransclutheran " domain names etc.., they are in China domain names. But after checking it, we find " blogsbylutheransclutheran " conflicts with your company. In order to deal with this matter better, so we send you email and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China or not?

Best Regards,

General Manager 
Shanghai Office (Head Office)
3002, Nanhai Building, No. 854 Nandan Road,
Xuhui District, Shanghai 200070, China
Tel: +86 216191 8696
Mobile: +86 1870199 4951 
Fax: +86 216191 8697

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Latin American Luther Academy

From 21-25 October 2013, the Luther Academy held continuing education for pastors from six Latin American countries: Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela. This was the first time the Nicaraguan Lutheran Church attended a Luther Academy conference. They would like to host two Luther Academy conferences in Nicaragua over the coming year. The Nicaraguan Lutheran Church is a mission of the Lutheran Church Canada (LCC).

Dr. David Scaer, Professor at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, lectured on "Law and Gospel." Rev. Roberto Bustamante, New Testament Professor at Concordia Seminary Buenos Aires Argentina, lectured on "Confessional Lutheran Identity."

Every evening, the lectures closed with vespers.

A subgroup of the Luther Academy conference met to discuss theological education in Latin America. The churches represented discussed the unique challenges of theological education and the specific needs of Latin American Churches.

The Spanish speaking Lutherans total about 40,000.

Rev. Sergio Fritzler, President of Concordia Seminary Buenos Aires Argentina, presented on the different programs offered at the seminary for pastoral training.

- Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver on 23 October 2013 using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:La Antigua Guatemala,Guatemala

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Malagasy Lutheran Church Briefly

The Malagasy Lutheran Church (FLM -- Fiangonana Loterana Malagasy) is remarkably similar to the Missouri Synod (LCMS) and at the same time different. The Malagasy Lutheran Church originates in the mission work done by the Norwegian Mission Society (NMS) begun in 1866 (The Malagasy Lutheran Church is only about 20 years younger than the Missouri Synod.) The Norwegian mission work began a couple of years after Queen Ranavalona I, a great persecutor of Christians, died in 1863. Her son, King Radama II, opened the door to more mission work. The northern part of Madagascar became Protestant under the influence of the London Mission Society (LMS), while the southern part of Madagascar became predominately Lutheran. Roman Catholicism made inroads into Madagascar by the French, who eventually succeeded in colonizing Madagascar in 1895, some 253 years after the first Frenchman landed in Madagascar in 1642.

Many of the Norwegian missionaries died within two years of arriving in Madagascar due to malaria and other tropical fevers. The cemetery above is from the first Lutheran church established in Antananarivo in 1871. Buried there are Lutheran missionaries from South Africa. In many cases, the church has become risk averse focusing on relatively risk free mission endeavors, while forgetting the sacrifices that the saints and martyrs of the church made to bring the Gospel to the nations.

The church in Antananarivo was established near the place Queen Ranavalona I executed so many Christian. The king of Madagascar desired a Lutheran church be established so that he could keep a better eye on them -- to ensure that the Lutherans were not promoting foreign political ideas that might threaten his reign. Today this congregation ("The Rock") has at least 3,000 people in worship on Sunday. Many of the city parishes of the Malagasy Lutheran Church worship between 3,000 and 10,000 people on any given Sunday.

Pictured above is a new congregation built within the past couple of years in Antsirabe. The sanctuary seats about 3,000. Total worshipped number right around 9,000 on a Sunday. Attendance numbering in the thousands is virtually unheard of in America and Europe.

The Malagasy Lutheran Church uses a hymnal for Sunday worship. The liturgy is very similar to what is found in the Lutheran Service Book. A good portion of their hymnody is the same as found in the Missouri Synod's hymnal -- translations of German and Scandinavian hymns. There also are a number of original Malagasy hymns that are Christ-centered. Some of their hymns are based on their unique context, for instance that a number of the Malagasy have engaged in ancestor worship:

Hymn 409

1. "O children who are gone astray, come back!" Your Father calls you; We will respond freely without any constraint. "Here we are. We confess that we are not good, and we are wounded by the enemy; Heal us because our way of living is corrupted."

2. "Oh, we have sinned and deserved to die and to be condemned forever! Our ancestors have worshiped the dead and we have followed them. O Father look at us and save us so that we may become Your children. We, who now now down our head before You."

3. "I will heal your going astray O my children! I will not also make my face sad for you." That what we want to hear in our heart is that You are our Father who comforts Your people."

The translation of the above hymn comes courtesy of Dr Robert Bennett's book I Am Not Afraid. This book is a wealth of information about the Malagasy Lutheran Church.

The Malagasy Lutheran Church is one of the fastest growing Lutheran Churches in the world. More than one new congregation opens each week, most of these new congregations quickly are worshipping in the thousands. Yet they use the liturgy and the hymnal. This demonstrates that the traditional liturgy and hymns can be used in a rapidly growing church and is not a deterrent to church attendance.

The church also has radio stations around the country. The Lutheran radio station in Antananarivo is one of the most popular in the city. They would like to partner with KFUO to exchange programs and resources.

The church is working to establish Lutheran schools.

Seventeen of twenty-one Malagasy Lutheran Church bishops met with Drs. Collver and Quill to develop closer relations between their church and the Missouri Synod this past week. The Malagasy Lutheran Church desires that the Missouri Synod assist in areas such as theological education and mercy projects. The church does not ordain woman and is vociferously opposed to the sexuality decisions made by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and the Church of Sweden (CoS).

There is much that the Missouri Synod could learn from the Malagasy Lutheran Church. Some Malagasy Lutheran pastors even said they could teach the Missouri Synod how to revitalize their congregations.

As the Malagasy Lutheran Church approaches 4 million members in one of the poorest countries of the world (the average Malagasy lives on $2 a day), we see a vibrant church that faces many challenges. Both the Missouri Synod and Malagasy Lutheran Church have much to offer each other. May The Lord bless this growing relationship.

- Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver on 19 October 2013 using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, October 18, 2013

Early Struggle for Christianity in Madagascar

The Andohalo Cathedral on top of the hill in Antananarivo, Madagascar marks the place where Queen Ranavalona I executed a number of Christians during her 33 year reign from 1829-1861.

At the beginning of he reign Queen Ranavalona I outlawed Christianity and executed convicted Christians by crucifixion, spear, throwing off the cliff, burning alive and poison.

Keith Laidler in Female Caligula describes how Queen Ranavalona executed Christians:

"The seven Christians stood together in the bright sunlight, bound with strong ropes, singing a hymn to their foreign Saviour as the spearmen advanced. Around them a crowd of jostling men, women and children, more than 60,000 strong and dressed in togas of various hues, yelled and jeered at the forlorn expression of faith by the condemned. Hucksters moved through the crowd, calling out their wares, selling snacks and drinks for the entertainment, and noting too a distinct sense of disappointment in their customers. The mob was angry. They felt cheated: they had come to enjoy the destruction of the hated sect, to see its adherents run screaming and panic-stricken from the spears, not watch them taking their slaughter meekly like so many placid sheep. There was little entertainment.

It had been the same just moments before, when a score of the Christians had been burned alive, the same calm acceptance of their fate, the same hateful hymn singing. Nevertheless, they cheered enthusiastically as the spears were driven home and, one by one, the men and women fell and writhed on the sandy ground, their hymn fading slowly into silence, replaced by the groans and shrieks of the dying. Above the still-squirming bodies, on a ridge, a score of crosses stood in mute witness, carrying their ghastly burdens, some of whom still lived despite the day and a half they had hung upon the wood. The stench of the charnel house pervaded the natural amphitheater where the grotesque show was taking place, and the baying, blood drunk crowd, the massed ranks of soldiery and the crucifixions, silhouetted along the skyline, gave the unmistakable impression of Rome at its worst."

So suffered the first Christians in Madagascar -- about 150 years ago. In 1866, the Norwegians arrived and planted the first Lutheran church in Antsirabe (230km south of Antananarivo). The first Lutheran church was planted in Antananarivo (pictured above -- no far from where the Christians were martyred) in 1871.

View from Ambatovinaky Lutheran Church ("A Rock"), the first Lutheran church in Antananarivo.

- Posted by Rev. Dr. Albert Collver on 18 October 2013 using BlogPress from my iPhone