Latin American Lutherans meet for first conference

Twenty-three men from eight different countries attended the first Latin America regional conference of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC) in Medellín, Colombia, April 3–7.

While at the conference, attendees were able to grow together through a series of essays on “The church under the cross.” They also learned about mission work in Spanish-speaking countries and in other areas around the world and encouraged each other in that gospel ministry.

The conference highlighted academiacristo.com, an online teaching and training tool for Spanish speakers developed by WELS in 2015. Rev. Mike Hartman, field coordinator for Latin America, talked about what is available now as well as discussed future video-based leadership courses. Attendees then were asked to provide feedback on upcoming potential courses.

“We want to get input on how it is going, how we can use this better, and how we can use this to reach more people and plant more churches in Latin America,” says Rev. Nate Seiltz, director of Multi-Language Publications and conference attendee. “It has to be driven by the nationals.”

Attendees—as well as members from Most Holy Trinity, the local congregation sponsoring the conference—also practiced singing new culturally relevant Spanish songs and parts of liturgy that are being developed to add as resources through Iglesialuteranacristo.com, a live-streamed, Christ-centered worship site.

While attendees were mostly leaders of missions and national church bodies in Latin America that are in fellowship with WELS and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, two attendees—one from Argentina and one from Colombia—were contacts made through Academia Cristo and online worship.

“What was really encouraging to me was [the attendees’] excitement to work together using Academia Cristo to share the gospel wherever they are,” says Seiltz, “and to see them talking with each other about challenges. It’s hard to get that any place else than at a conference like this. And then their realization: ‘We’re not alone. We have other people whom we can connect with, and we can encourage each other.’ ”

The CELC—composed of 29 member churches worldwide—provides a forum for confessional Lutherans who are in fellowship with one another. The next triennial international conference will be held in 2017 in Germany. Learn more about the CELC and our sister church bodies at www.celc.info.