|Wittenberg Project Legally Constituted (3/2008)|
A Prominent Expression of Confessional Lutheranism
[20.3.2008] On March 17th, 2008 the first board meeting of the newly constituted “International Lutheran Society of Wittenberg” (ILSW) was held in the Old University “Leucorea” in Wittenberg, Germany.
Present for the meeting were leading representatives of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) from the USA a n d from its German sister church, the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK). The member of the SELK consistory, Mr. Ulrich Schroeder (Dresden), gave a detailed report on the reconstruction process of Wittenberg’s Old Latin School of 1564, which is to be the site of the project. It is estimated that the extensive task of renovation will be finished around the middle of 2010. To date building contracts for about 200 thousand euros have been assigned, provided by agencies in the LCMS.
The Rev. Wilhelm Torgerson, pastor of the SELK and in charge of this joint LCMS-SELK project, reported on the very positive reception he encountered in the congregations of the LCMS during his travels in America. Mr. Wallace Lindsey (Berlin), who presented to the board the operation and finance plan, is to serve as business manager.
Bishop Hans-Joerg Voigt (Hannover) reported the establishment of an agreement between the SELK and the territorial church prominent in the Wittenberg region, a denomination in the Union tradition of the Protestant Federation in Germany (EKD). The agreement regulates the use of church buildings by guest groups and proscribes any proselytizing in Wittenberg. The mutually agreed principles re-iterate what is already standard procedure in the rules of the Association of Christian Churches (ACK) in Germany and those in the Charta Oecumenica.
Independent of the name of the ILSW the board members decided as name for the project “The International Lutheran Welcome Center” (ILWC). Pastor Torgerson was unanimously asked to continue serving as project leader. His title is to be “Rector”, in order to indicate both the academic and spiritual nature of his position. The official subtitle for the center, “Institute for Lutheran Studies, Mission and Human Care”, describes the intended goal of the endeavour.
As the Reformation Jubilee of 2017 approaches (500th anniversary of Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses), the ILWC seeks to give prominent expression of its confessional heritage at the various Luther sites. It wants to provide a spiritual home and place of respite to the many pilgrims from the confessional Lutheran churches throughout the world that will be visiting Wittenberg between now and the jubilee.
In the Protestant territorial context the city of Wittenberg since 1815 was part of the Prussian Union Church, and is today part of the Evangelical Church of the Ecclesiastical Province of Saxony. Since at least 1923 the Old Lutheran Church (today: SELK) had a worship venue in the city, served first from Potsdam, afterwards from Halle, and lately from Luckenwalde. The present members of the SELK in Wittenberg are the nucleus for the formation of a new confes-sional Lutheran parish in Lutherstadt Wittenberg.