“We all speak the same language.”
While Mr. Pedro Abel Beltran Callejas from the Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica Luterana Confesional in Bolivia may not be referring to the words coming from everyone’s mouth, he does highlight the pure gospel message preached and taught by the member churches of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC). Seventy-four delegates and guests from those churches met May 30 to June 2 in Lima, Peru, for the eighth triennial CELC convention under the theme “We are God’s workmanship—created in Christ Jesus for good works.”
While at the convention, attendees studied essays on sanctification presented by leaders from five different CELC member church bodies. Presentations from church bodies and mission fields allowed attendees to rejoice in the work of the Lord being done around the world.
“I want to take back to Chile a message that we are not alone,” says Mr. Victor Henriquez from the Christian Church of the Lutheran Reformation in Chile. “There are others that believe the same things that we believe. But I didn’t think that there were so many and from so many parts of the world.”
The Christian Church of the Lutheran Reformation in Chile was one of five church bodies that was accepted into associate membership with the CELC at this convention. Others include the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church of Albania; St. John’s Lutheran Congregation in Finland; and two sister churches in South Asia.
“Where I’m from it’s very cold. People are not so friendly to the message of Christ. To come here where everyone believes in the Bible—it’s very warming,” says Mr. David Åkerlund, the representative from St. John’s Lutheran Congregation in Finland, a church with only 14 members.
While at the convention, attendees had an opportunity to worship with local Peruvian congregations at the seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Peru. Hundreds of people attended this bilingual service.
“I felt like I was at the first Pentecost,” says Rev. Mark Schroeder, WELS president and delegate at the convention. “You’re sitting in a worship service with people who all speak different languages, and yet you see that the Holy Spirit gives unity of faith. It’s amazing to see how the gospel transcends culture, language, and borders. It really drives home that we are one in Christ Jesus.”
The next CELC convention will be held in Grimma, Germany, in 2017, the same year as the 500th anniversary of the posting of Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses. This year’s convention voted to assemble a special CELC committee to put together “Ninety-five Theses for the 21st Century” as an anniversary project. The topics for these theses would include Lutheran fundamentals, with an emphasis on where confessional Lutheranism is at odds with contemporary culture, society, and church life. The hope is that these theses would be completed in time for approval by the CELC convention in 2017.
The CELC—composed of 29 member churches worldwide—provides a forum for confessional Lutherans who are in fellowship. Learn more about the CELC and our sister church bodies atwww.celc.info. Also watch for further coverage of this convention in the August Forward in Christ.