In August 2022 I received an invitation from Dr Wilfred John, director of the Lutheran Study Centre – Sabah, Malaysia, to teach at a conference with the theme, Lutheran Distinctives on Church, Ministry and Mission. Dr Wilfred is a former student at Australian Lutheran College (ALC) and a long-time friend of the LCA. The visit […]
In August 2022 I received an invitation from Dr Wilfred John, director of the Lutheran Study Centre – Sabah, Malaysia, to teach at a conference with the theme, Lutheran Distinctives on Church, Ministry and Mission. Dr Wilfred is a former student at Australian Lutheran College (ALC) and a long-time friend of the LCA. The visit was organised by LCA International Mission.
What a joyful and exciting experience! For three days I gathered with representatives from six different Lutheran churches under the theme ‘Developing Lutheran Identity’. The conference was an English-language meeting at the Luther Centre in Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur. Representatives from at least six different Lutheran churches, including BCCM (Basel Christian Church of Malaysia), PCS (Protestant Church of Sabah), LCM (Lutheran Church of Malaysia), ELCM (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Malaysia), LCS (Lutheran Church of Singapore) and HKBP (Huria Kristen Batak Protestant Church).
I presented keynote addresses on ‘Reformation Understanding of the Church’, and ‘Reformation Reflection on the Ministry’. The key content was the Lutheran Confessions, especially the Augsburg Confession and the Apology, the Smalcald Articles and Luther’s catechisms. I was also part of a panel with the Lutheran World Federation’s Dr Philip Lok, Bishop Stephen Lawrence (ELCM) and Bishop Emeritus Terry Kee (LCS), reflecting on various aspects of ecumenical dialogues. This presented an opportunity to share the results of our three main dialogues in Australia, and to reflect on the Asian region Lutheran churches’ contribution to our own conversations and partnerships.
I was encouraged to see nearly 40 people registered and many of them were young. Some are newly elected leaders wanting to strengthen their Lutheran understandings. This is an exciting time for the region, and they look to the LCA for theological assistance. On our part, we are energised by their passion, hard work and mission-mindedness.
Building relationships and trust in this region requires being present when possible and is the foundation for people to receive teaching. I am encouraged by the thirst for learning and the recognition by leaders of their need to grow in Lutheran identity. These churches are mission-driven, and they realise that to fulfil that mission they need a true understanding of law and gospel, and a clear confessional answer to the question from Christ, ‘Who do you say that I am?’
My thanks to LCA International Mission for organising this trip and to Pastor Matt Anker and ALC Principal James Winderlich for their encouragement to attend.
This story was also published in the August 2023 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.
If you would like to consider the opportunity to serve as a volunteer in mission, serving in practical ways, teaching English, teaching in the seminaries and institutions of our partner churches, or in local churches, you are invited to phone Nevin on (08) 8267 7300 or email email@example.com. For more information, go to https://www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/volunteer/
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