3 Leuenberg Church Fellowship

Leuenberg Church Fellowship

   The Leuenberg Church Fellowship is an association of Protestant denominations that recognize one another's sacraments and allow any of their ministers to preach at any member church. The member churches are all active in the Ecumenical movement and are members of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
   The fellowship originated in post-World War II dialogues between Lutheran and Reformed churches. The Waldensian Church (Italy) and the Church of the Czech Brethren (Czechoslovakia) were soon included in the conversations. By 1973, substantial progress had been made. A text of Leuenberg Agreements was published detailing the consensus, and the Leuenberg Church Fellowship was inaugurated.
   The Leuenberg churches have come to a common affirmation on the sacraments, perhaps the most divisive issue among Protestants in the 16th century. Beginning with a reaffirmation of the basic faith statements that all of the churches had agreed upon since their formation on issues such as the Trinity and salvation in Jesus Christ, the fellowship achieved agreement about the practice and meaning of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Baptism, it states, is "administered in the Name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy spirit with water. In Baptism Jesus Christ irrevocably receives man . . . into his fellowship of salvation. . . . [and] calls him into his community and to a new life of faith." In the Lord's Supper, "the risen Jesus Christ imparts himself in his body and blood, given up for all, through his word of promise with bread and wine. He thereby . . . enables us to experience anew that we are members of his body."
   By affirming that "Christ imparts himself" in the sacrament, the agreements allowed room for both Lutheran and Calvinist understanding of the nature of the Eucharist, though it discounted Free Church views that baptism and the Lord's supper are ordinances performed because the Bible commands them and/or as memorials of Christ. Anglicans, too, have found the Leuenberg Agreements as yet incomplete.
   since its founding, the fellowship has been open to additional members, and a number of European churches have joined, notably the Methodists. In recent years, it has begun to reach beyond Europe to include several Lutheran churches in Argentina. It was crucial in uniting Reformed/Presbyterian churches in Ethiopia with Lutherans in the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus.
   The Leuenberg Church Fellowship is headquartered in Berlin, Germany. As the new century begins, it reports 103 member churches and three additional cooperating and participating churches (the main Lutheran churches in Sweden,Finland, and Iceland).
   Further reading:
   ■ Leuenberg Church Fellowship. Available online. URL: http://www.leuenberg.net. Accessed on June 15, 2003.

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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