From 28th October to 1st November Bishop Primus took part in an ongoing dialogue between the ACNA and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC). Also taking part in the dialogue were representatives of the equivalent body in Germany – the Selbständige Evangelisch–Lutherische Kirche (SELK), and of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England (ELCE). The ACNA delegation included Archbishop Foley Beach, Presiding Bishop Ray Sutton and the Revd Dr Jonathan Riches of the Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Philadelphia. Bishops Gerhard Meyer of Germany and Jasmin Milic of Croatia were also present. The conference members were housed in the Old Latin School in Wittenberg, just yards from the Church where Martin Luther preached regularly.
Each day began with devotions led by members of the Lutheran bodies. Particularly special and memorable was the worship on 31st October – Reformation Day – when, after prayer in the Old Latin School, Anglicans and Lutherans walked to the site of the doors to which Martin Luther affixed his 95 Theses on that very day in 1517, where they had further prayer and rejoiced in the great truths of God’s grace that we share together.
Much of the time was spent sharing the stories of the various traditions represented – from Europe and North America. The Right Revd Hans-Jorg Voigt, Bishop of SELK, joined on the Wednesday and told of how his Church began as a result of persecution by Calvinists under the King of Prussia in the early 19th century. The Revd Dr Christoph Barnbrock, Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Oberursel, came on the Friday and described the courses available in the Seminary. The need for orthodox theological education and ministerial training was identified as a priority and it is hoped to keep some momentum going on this.
The Anglican bishops took advantage of Archbishop Foley’s presence to have a separate meeting with him to share their perceptions of the GAFCON situation and need in the UK and Europe.
While the Lutheran presence in the UK is very small, in North America, Lutherans outnumber Anglicans. Both traditions share an indebtedness to the Reformation of the 16th century and it is good for us to be in dialogue.