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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

International Ecumenical Fellowship marks 500th anniversary of the Reformation

The International Ecumenical Fellowship (IEF) is a community of grassroots Christians from different countries and traditions, who through prayer and worship, theological study, discipleship, fellowship and friendship are spiritually encouraged to work for Christian unity. Their vision is summed up by the phrase "Living Today the Church of Tomorrow".
The 44th conference of the IEF was recently held for a week in Wittenberg, Germany, the place where Martin Luther, by nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Schlosskirche in the town, gave birth to the Protestant Reformation in 1517. On the 500th anniversary of that event the IEF programme brought together Christians of every tradition to reflect together on the theme "From the true treasure of the Church(es), rediscovering the gospel together 1517/2017".
On Sunday, the final day of the IEF conference, I represented the Anglican Communion at a celebration of the Eucharist according to the Lima Liturgy, held in the Stadkirche (city parish church). Other celebrants came from Old Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Moravian and Methodist traditions. The chief celebrant was the Revd Dr Olav Fyske Tveit, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches. Other participants in the rite came from the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

In his sermon, Bishop Professor Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm of Munich made an impassioned plea which received an applause from the packed congregation: "The church can not be a place where those who are called sisters and brothers remain separate at the Lord's table".The Stadtkirche (dedicated to St Mary) is the building where the Reformers Martin Luther and Johannes Bugenhagen preached. It also saw the first celebration of the mass in German rather than Latin. It is thus considered to be the mother church of the Protestant Reformation. The Lima Liturgy is a eucharistic rite based on the convergence on the eucharist reached in the Faith and Order text Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (BEM). It was first used at the Faith and Order Plenary Commission meeting in Lima, Peru in 1982. I had parts to preside in Spanish and English. Other parts of the liturgy were in German, French, Swahili and Polish!


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