ILC Chairman meets with Confessional Nordic Bishops in Helsinki

Bishop Voigt Invites Mission Diocese Leaders to Discuss ILC Membership

[Updated 11 Sept 2014]

Front row from left: Bishop Voigt, Bishop Lars Artman, Bishop Thor Henrik With, Bishop Risto Soramies, Bishop Roland Gustafsson, Bishop Göran Beijer.
Rear row from left: Dean Juhana Pohjola, Dr. Bengt Birgersson, Pastor Erik Okkels.

Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt of the Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Germany (SELK) and Chairman of the International Lutheran Council (ILC), met with leaders of the three Nordic Confessional Lutheran Mission Dioceses September 3 to discuss future relationships. The Nordic leaders had gathered in Helsinki, Finland September 2-3 for one of their periodic discussions of developments in the region and possibilities for future cooperation.

“We follow with interest the Confessional dioceses’ work in the Nordic lands,” Bishop Voigt told the Nordic leaders, “and we want to deepen contacts with you. In the future the Mission Dioceses could also be members of ILC. That would be a blessing for our fellowship.”

The ILC website's account of the meeting reported as follows:

In the course of the discussion, Bishop Voigt issued an invitation to the Scandinavian Mission Provinces to begin discussions with the Executive Committee of the ILC about the possibility and the modalities of membership in this global organization. At the same time, he expressed his understanding of the pastoral practice of the mission dioceses in not urging individual members of their parishes to leave their respective Lutheran state churches, but rather to bear those tensions that a struggle for the true unity of the church imposes.

The Nordic dioceses represented included the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese in Finland, the Mission Province in Sweden, and the Evangelical-Lutheran Diocese in Norway.

“We are walking on the same path in Norway and Sweden, as in Finland,” said Bishop Risto Soramies of the Finnish Diocese. “It is important that we support each other and seek a common voice with which we can give a testimony also to the world around us.”

“In practice, each church often works in one country and among one people, but ultimately the church is not bound and not limited by ethnic or state boundaries. Therefore it is important that we also seek and maintain this kind of unity.”