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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Conference of International Black Lutherans:
A broader interpretation of ecumenism

Under the theme “The Moral and Spiritual Imperative for Holistic World Community—Ecumenism: The Vocation of the Theologian/Priest in the World House,” 50 participants of the Fourth Conference of International Black Lutherans, USA, discussed Martin Luther King Jr.’s concept of today’s world as a house where people of different religions, ethnic backgrounds and nationalities learn to live together peacefully.

Meeting with Brazilian theologians of African descent in Sao Leopoldo, Brazil, Oct. 12-17, participants discussed how their vocation relates to ecumenism.

Working with the whole church, theologians and ministers are “the major depository and transmitter [of] ideology, faith and experiences for the development of future church leaders,” said Albert Pero Jr., professor emeritus of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Ecumenism is critical because people of African descent “are a global and ecumenical people,” he added. “[Their] experiences of inordinate suffering have caused them to lean on God alone and to envision a world society that reflects the parenthood of God and the kinship of all peoples.”

Richard Perry, LSTC professor of church and society and urban ministry, said, “We haven’t thought deeply enough about ecumenism as it relates to racial justice and oppression.” In addition to theological understandings, whether or not a church pursues racial justice “at all levels” is “another litmus test for whether the black church should be in ecumenical relationships,” he added.


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