Lutheran – Orthodox dialogue
Relations between the LWF and the Eastern Orthodox Churches
High-level visits and discussions between the LWF and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the spiritual leadership of the Orthodox world, began in 1967. Plans for a global ecumenical dialogue between the two sides began shortly afterwards and were developed over the following decade.
The international Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission met for the first time in Espoo, Finland, in 1981 and has been working continuously since then, creating common ground on different topics and agreeing on a number of joint statements.
Significant common statements include Salvation: Grace, Justification and Synergy (1998) and Baptism and Chrismation as Sacraments of Initiation into the Church (2004). The topic of the current phase of dialogue, which began in 2019, is focused on the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church.
- Divine Revelation
- Scripture and Tradition
- Canon and Inspiration
- Apostolic succession and ordination
- Holy Spirit
- 1985 – 3rd Plenary in Allentown, U.S., Divine Revelation
- 1987 – 4th Plenary in Crete, Greece, Scripture and Tradition
- 1989 – 5th plenary in Bad Segeberg, Germany, The Canon and the Inspiration of the Holy Scripture
- 1993 – 7th Plenary in Sandbjerg, Denmark, The Ecumenical Councils
- 1995 – 8th Plenary in Limassol, Cyprus, Understanding of Salvation in the Light of the Ecumenical Councils
- 1998 – 9th Plenary in Sigtuna, Sweden, Salvation: Grace, Justification and Synergy
- 2000 – 10th Plenary in Damascus, Syria, Word and Sacraments (Mysteria) in the Life of the Church
- 2002 – 11th Plenary in Oslo, Norway, Mysteria/Sacraments as Means of Salvation
- 2004 – 12th Plenary in Duràu, Romania, Baptism and Chrismation as Sacraments of Initiation into the Church
- 2006 – 13th Plenary in Bratislava, Slovak Republic, The Mystery of the Church/The Holy Eucharist in the Life of the Church
- 2008 – 14th Plenary in Paphos, Cyprus, The Mystery of the Church: The Holy Eucharist in the Life of the Church
- 2011 – 15th Plenary in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany, The Mystery of the Church: The Nature, Attributes and Mission of the Church
- 2017 – 17th Plenary in Helsinki, Finland, The Mystery of the Church: Ordained Ministry/Priesthood
Although international dialogue has a unique status and role within Lutheran-Orthodox relations, various regional Lutheran-Orthodox dialogues have developed a significant number of further themes.
The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), which includes Reformed and United churches in its membership, has been especially active in encouraging regional dialogues with Orthodox churches. Intensive Lutheran-Orthodox dialogue has also been carried out in Finland.
Documents agreed upon and produced by regional dialogues since the 1960s include following dialogues:
- Finnish Lutheran Church – Russian Orthodox Church
- EKD (Evangelical Church in Germany) - Russian Orthodox Church
- EKD – Ecumenical Patriarchate EKD - Romanian Orthodox Church
- Federation of Evangelical Churches (BEK) [DDR] - Russian Orthodox Church
- BEK [DDR] /EKD - Bulgarian Orthodox Church
- Lutheran-Orthodox dialogue in the U.S.
- Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church – Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church
Further information on most of these dialogues can be found in Risto Saarinen: Faith and Holiness - Lutheran-Orthodox Dialogue 1959-1994. Göttingen, Germany, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1997 and on Risto Saarinen's web page.
- 2012 - 2014 – Preparatory meetings for the 16th session of the Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission
- 2013 – Preparations for 16th session of the Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission
- 2015 – Plenary meeting of the Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission on Ministry/Priesthood
- 2015 – Reception of the plenary report of the Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission on Ministry/Priesthood by the LWF Council
Photo: N. Hoppe | Photo: The Ecumenical Patriarchate | Photo: LWF