Author Topic: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg  (Read 28132 times)

ptmccain

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Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« on: October 17, 2007, 07:35:12 PM »
I'm very excited to report that things are progressing marvelously on the development of a new Luther center in Wittenberg, Germany, as a result of a partnership amongst The Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Germany, The LCMS Board for World Missions, LCMS Board for Human Care and Concordia Publishing House, with funding provided by the Lutheran Church Extension Fund and grants and gifts now beginning to pour in in from individuals, congregations and Synodical districts and other agencies.



The photo you see is the sign for the center at its temporary office location on the site of what once was the Wittenberg University. It states simply:

 Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church
The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
Wittenberg Office

The SELK pastor stationed now in Wittenberg, has his office here until the renovations are complete on the building that has been purchased and which stands prominently, very appropriately so, next to St. Mary Church, the birthplace of the Lutheran Reformation. Within these walls, Luther's sermons on the Gospel rang out and spread throughout Europe. All visitors to Wittenberg, and it is estimated there are nearly 600,000 English speaking tourists a year making their way to Wittenberg, will see the Luther Center as they enter the St. Mary Church, for it is to the immediate left of the main door into the church. And in that center will be a Concordia Publishing House bookstore.



Photo of building that will house the Lutheran Center.

It was constructed by Elector August I in the early 1560s as a gymnasium (boy's high school). You might remember that August I was the sponsor of the Book of Concord and virtually saved Lutheranism when finally he realized that Melanchthonian-Lutherans whom he had trusted were actually just trying to sneak Calvinism in. Once they were exposed and removed from Wittenberg, things took a definite turn for the better and as a result we have our Book of Concord today! So, a very appropriate building, in a great location, in a very important city indeed.

Full Divine Services and Lutheran liturgical worship will be offered in the ministry center building by pastors of the SELK.

Go to The Lutheran Witness for the full story and more details.

http://www.lcms.org/pages/wPage.asp?ContentID=158&IssueID=15


« Last Edit: October 17, 2007, 07:40:41 PM by ptmccain »

Charles_Austin

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2007, 11:00:51 PM »
And this link will takie you to the Wittenberg Center ministry of the ELCA, which is not "new," it has been there since 1999.

http://www.elca.org/wittenberg/

The center offers a wide range of study and travel seminars for seminarians, pastors, and others.

Institutional partners in the Wittenberg area with which the Center currently is developing programs are:
    * The Evangelical Church of the Church Province of Saxony is a Landeskirche (Regional Church) which extends beyond the state of Saxony Anhalt to areas of Saxony and Thuringia (including Erfurt). It is a Union church, but has strong affinity to the Lutheran tradition and is considering membership in the Lutheran World Federation. The Church Province of Saxony and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thuringia have joined together in a federation. The Protestant congregations in the Wittenberg area are part of the Church Province of Saxony. The Center's Director participates in their area conference of clergy and church workers. Local pastors and church members will serve as resource persons for some programs.
    * The Predigerseminar (Preacher's Seminary) is a pastoral training institute of the Evangelicall Church of the Union (EKU), a federation of Union Churches in the former territories of the Prussian king. The seminary trains pastoral candidates in practical theology within a two-year internship program that includes parish service.
    * The Evangelical Academy of Saxony Anhalt is a ministry of the Church Province of Saxony and the Evangelical Church of Anhalt, a smaller Landeskirche located in the Dessau area. Both churches are members of the Evangelical Church of the Union. Its programs of continuing education are oriented toward the laity and include seminars, lectures and study tours covering an array of current topics. Its newly renovated, multi-purpose facility was opened in 1997. The offices of the ELCA Wittenberg Center are located at the Evangelical Academy.
    * The Stiftung Luthergedenkstatten (Luther Memorials Foundation) administers four Luther museums in Wittenberg and Eisleben: the Lutherhalle, the largest museum of Reformation history in the world; the Melanchthon House in Wittenberg; and Luther's Birth House and Death House in Eisleben. The Foundation supports scholarly research and also promotes programs in projects which illume Reformation history for the public.
    * The Franckesche Stiftung (Francke Foundation) in Halle is connected with the rise of the pietism movement in Germany.  The Foundation sent out many missionaries across the world, including Henry Melchior Muhlenberg to the British colonies in the Americas.  Since 1999, the Foundation is home of the theological faculty of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg.
    * The Stiftung Leucorea (Leucorea Foundation) is a newly renovated continuing educational center located on the site of the old Wittenberg University. The Leucorea is related to the university of Halle. Intensive courses and seminars are offered through several institutes which are housed in the facility. They include the Institute for German Language and Culture, the Center for U.S. Studies and the Center for Reformation History and Lutheran Orthodoxy. The Institute for Language and Culture has growing experience in designing and implementing study programs in conjunction with American colleges and universities.
    * Wittenberg Information represents the city and county of Wittenberg to international as well as German visitors. Room bookings, tours, printed materials and audio-visual resources are available at their center. Almost all visitors to Wittenberg pass through the friendly confines of Wittenberg Information.


« Last Edit: October 17, 2007, 11:12:16 PM by Charles_Austin »

Charles_Austin

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2007, 11:11:32 PM »
Some more information:

Representatives of the EKD and the ELCA recently met about the Wittenberg Center that the ELCA established in the German city in 1999 in cooperation with the German churches.

At that meeting the church leaders from both countries expressed concern about the establishment of additional centers in the city as they are trying to work towards full cooperation in commemorating the Reformation anniversary in 2017.

From an ELCA News Release:
ELCA, EKD leaders discuss Wittenberg centers, Reformation anniversary
     In later discussions representatives of the EKD, ELCA and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) shared concerns about ministry "centers" that already exist or are being established in Wittenberg as the anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation approaches.
     The ELCA Wittenberg Center, established in 1999, is one of three international ministry centers of the ELCA, said the Rev. Robert Smith, continental desk director for Europe and the Middle East, ELCA Global Mission.  Other ELCA centers are in Mexico City and Bethlehem, he said.  The Wittenberg Center "provides a global perspective on ministry and mission," as well as opportunities for Lutherans traveling in Germany to deepen their relationships with Reformation traditions, he added.
     Recently, the church leadership of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (VELKD) -- a part of the EKD -- announced they will support the center by providing finances for a pastor to serve there through 2017.  VELKD is cooperating with the EKD, ELCA and LWF in the project.
     Concerns were raised about a new Wittenberg ministry center to be opened soon by the LCMS.  The LCMS Wittenberg Center will be a mission start in cooperation with the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church, the LCMS partner church in Germany, said the Rev. David L. Mahsman, LCMS Board for Mission Service, St. Louis.
     Huber said he is concerned that local churches and church institutions are respected as the number of Wittenberg centers increase, and he said there is a "need to coordinate these presences." The LCMS does not want to create a problem or create confusion, Mahsman responded.
     The Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director, ELCA Global Mission, said the ELCA is open to conversation "about the future of the ELCA Wittenberg Center" with churches in Germany.  He asked what the possibilities were for collaboration between the ELCA and LCMS in Wittenberg.  Mahsman said he is open to discussion about whether such a collaborative effort may be possible.  Huber ended the conversation with a proposal that a working group be formed to "reflect on an integrated strategy about the Lutheran presence in Wittenberg."

So let us hope that there can be full and complete and fraternal and ecclesial fellowship in Wittenberg as we move towards the anniversary. What a tragedy it would be if minority churches in Germany kept apart from the celebrations being planned by the EKD and its ecumenical partners.

LutherMan

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2007, 12:25:10 AM »
Thanks for the news about these exciting developments, Rev. McCain.

Charles_Austin

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2007, 05:41:05 AM »
The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) includes 23 church bodies, comprising the vast majority of Protestants in Germany. The Independent Lutheran Church in Germany (SELK) has about 200 congregations and 35,000 members.

Someone with the proper standing in the LC-MS should explain the need to begin another "Wittenberg Center" there, rather than seek cooperation with the Lutherans and other Protestants already operating a center for study, research, and other projects.

Seems to me it's rather like a mission agency coming to a town that already has Lutheran churches, a major Lutheran organization and the majority of the population as Lutheran Christians and starting up another parish. (Of course, that could never happen. ;D ;D)

ptmccain

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2007, 06:50:59 AM »
Thanks for the news about these exciting developments, Rev. McCain.

You bet, it is exciting indeed.

Charles_Austin

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2007, 07:12:42 AM »
So is anyone going to answer my question about why they think there is a need to establish a "new" Wittenberg Center, when one is already in place with the cooperation and support of the majority of Lutheran churches in Germany? And the established center apparently has the support of major Lutheran educational foundations and historic sites in "Lutherland."


LutherMan

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2007, 07:29:40 AM »
Rev. Austin, as you have posted there is a strong non-Lutheran presence involved with the ELCA Wittenberg Center.  It looks more like an ecumenical endeavor all for "the more the merrier" sake than the promotion of authentic Lutheranism, and one wonders if they aren't  just trying to sneak Calvinism in   under the auspices of the Lutheran name.
Quote
Someone with the proper standing in the LC-MS should explain the need to begin another "Wittenberg Center"
Don't know what kind of 'proper standing' you are looking for, I'm just an LCMS pewsitter who is a member in good standing at my parish.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2007, 07:34:46 AM by LutherMan »

EENGELBRECHT

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2007, 08:13:05 AM »
So is anyone going to answer my question about why they think there is a need to establish a "new" Wittenberg Center, when one is already in place with the cooperation and support of the majority of Lutheran churches in Germany? And the established center apparently has the support of major Lutheran educational foundations and historic sites in "Lutherland."

Charles, how about, "Celebrate diversity!"  :)

In Christ,
EE

ROB_MOSKOWITZ

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2007, 08:20:06 AM »
Looks like a place I would like to visit.

Perhaps the LCMS has decided they have sole interpretation of the situation and acted?    Relax at least they have not unilaterally declared anyone schismatics and ousted them.

Yes EE diversity.   Funny, how it is celebrated and then opposed. 


Rob Moskowitz
« Last Edit: October 18, 2007, 08:23:03 AM by ROB_MOSKOWITZ »

Charles_Austin

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2007, 09:19:17 AM »
Rob Moskowitz writes:
Perhaps the LCMS has decided they have sole interpretation of the situation and acted?    Relax at least they have not unilaterally declared anyone schismatics and ousted them.

Yes EE diversity.   Funny, how it is celebrated and then opposed. 

I comment:
Well, usually when we "celebrate diversity," the point is to be together with our diverse personae, rather than to create new segments. What a grand witness to our common heritage of the Reformation it would be if the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany could say: "We'll will celebrate our common history together, even as we recognize that we do not have all things in common today."

Wouldn't that be better than to have two "Wittenberg Centers," each dealing with a parallel set of programs and concerns?

LutherMan

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2007, 09:31:07 AM »
Some of us oppose diversity celebrated for diversity's sake alone, especially when pure doctrine is compromised...

John Dornheim

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2007, 10:16:54 AM »
So is anyone going to answer my question about why they think there is a need to establish a "new" Wittenberg Center, when one is already in place with the cooperation and support of the majority of Lutheran churches in Germany? And the established center apparently has the support of major Lutheran educational foundations and historic sites in "Lutherland."



Charles, you know perfectly well that there is no logical explanation for this. I'd like to think that if we tried to do something similar that there would be a substantial hue and cry over such a colossal waste of benevolences.

John Dornheim

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2007, 10:28:28 AM »
Charles Austin wrote: So is anyone going to answer my question about why they think there is a need to establish a "new" Wittenberg Center, when one is already in place with the cooperation and support of the majority of Lutheran churches in Germany? And the established center apparently has the support of major Lutheran educational foundations and historic sites in "Lutherland."

Tim Christ muses: I've often defended, or at least sought to place in context LC-MS activity (as has Charles). For myself this is due to close personal ties (family) and generally positive experiences in the areas where I've served in ministry. However, to the LC-MS folks herein, Charles raises solid, appropriate and well-intentioned questions on this one. Without diminishing the importance of "doctrinal differences" as one writer declared, it seems to me this action may only serve to simply exacerbates the sad reality that, in many arenas where we could and should be cooperative, we don't even play well together because we seem more prone to emulate that damnable OT indictment, "everyone did what was right in their own eyes."
Pr. Tim Christ, STS

Maryland Brian

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Re: Interesting Developments in Wittenberg
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2007, 10:30:06 AM »

Wouldn't that be better than to have two "Wittenberg Centers," each dealing with a parallel set of programs and concerns?


Not really.  Having two centers demonstrates the vitality of the Lutheran experience in the so-called, "New World."  Just as the Celts and the "Princes of Rome" were busy with their separate plans to re-evangelize Europe after the dark ages, perhaps this is simply a variation on the same theme.  What does "Lutheran" mean in a former DDR city?  Certainly we don't even know ourselves what "Lutheran" means in this country and we haven't lived under communist oppression.

How does one define success with a "Wittenberg Center?"  Is this about historical connections to a 15th century cleric or a living faith in Jesus Christ?  I doubt any one of us know how or if the residents of this former USSR aligned region will again be captured by the Gospel.  Time will tell which of these various efforts will do more than bring tourist dollars to town.

Maryland Brian
« Last Edit: October 18, 2007, 10:52:06 AM by Maryland Brian »