2007 – Pretoria

Third ILC World Conference of Lutheran Theological Seminaries

From 29 March to 1 April 2007 the Third World “Seminaries” Conference of the theological seminaries and training institutions of the churches belonging to the International Lutheran Council (ILC) was held in Pretoria, South Africa. More than seventy participants from all continents came together to reflect on the training of pastors in the sense of distinct confessional Lutheran  heology for the present time. This conference was the third meeting of theological teachers from amongst the ILC churches.

The conference was opened with a keynote address by professor em. Dr. Reinhard Slenczka, Germany, about “Confessional Church and Theology – Confessing Theologians – a Global Challenge Today.” Slenczka emphasized the necessity that even today Lutheran theology and church needs to be confessional and warned against “atheism” in theology – that is, when God is no longer the subject of theology, but only the object talked about.

Three work units followed with the topics “Institutional Challenges: Training of Pastors in an Age of Changing Models for Pastoral Education” (Dr. Paulo Nerbas, Brazil), “Cultural Challenges: Preparing Pastors to Preach the Crucified Christ in the Respective Cultural and Social Contexts” (Dr. Nelson Unwene, Nigeria), “Ecumenical Challenges: Preparing Confessional Lutheran Pastors for an Ecumenical Age” (Dr. Joshua Sironomy, India), and “Theological Challenges: Preparing Pastors to Shepherd God’s People – Putting the Gospel into Practice” (Dr. L. Dean Hempelmann, USA).  A response was given on each of these papers by representatives of churches within a different context.

The main papers were supplemented by papers given in parallel sessions, which discussed research results and topics from within different fields of Lutheran theology.

The papers clearly showed the wealth of Lutheran theology and putting it at work in very different contexts. At the same time it became clear that, and how, the different training institutions of Lutheran churches belonging to the ILC are based upon a solid foundation of common confessional theology. The ensuing discussions and the various opportunities for conversation deepened these insights in an impressive way.

On Sunday the participants of the conference attended the services of congregations of the Lutheran Church in Southern Africa and the Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa in Pretoria and Johannesburg; both churches belong to the ILC.