Outside Madrid, the Annual Assembly of the Spanish Evangelical Lutheran Church (Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Española, IELE) was held on 8-10 October 2021. As does the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland (ELMDF), the IELE belongs to the International Lutheran Council (ILC). What made the event extraordinary was the consecration of the first Lutheran bishop in Spanish history. Pastor Jose Luis de Miguel (59) was consecrated Bishop by the Rev. Dr. Juhana Pohjola, Bishop of the Mission Diocese and his assistants.
In the 16th century during the Reformation, Lutheran teaching also spread to Spain, but the harsh counter-Reformation forced Lutheran Christians to flee. As a result of the missionary work of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina and of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, United States, there has been a registered Lutheran Church in Spain since 2004. It currently has four congregations spread throughout Spain and also several mission sites.
Pastor Marcos Berndt, a member of the Isaiah Congregation of the Mission Diocese of Jyväskylä, Finland, has been a missionary in Spain from Argentina since the early days of the IELE.
The Rev. Dr. Arthur A. Just (professor, Fort Wayne, USA), who preached at the ordination Mass and who has often visited Spain on teaching missions, reminded the new Bishop of the historicity of the situation and encouraged him in the work of the Gospel.
We are gathered to ordain the first Lutheran Bishop in Spain in the historic town of El Escorial, the center of the counter-Reformation under King Philip II. A Bishop has been called “the minister of the body and soul”, because Christ, born in the flesh, came to make new what had been broken by sin. By calling people to repentance and to the ownership of the forgiveness of sins through the preaching of the Word and the Holy Communion of the Lord, we show mercy. In the midst of our sickness and distress, we receive the Savior spiritually and corporally. That is why a bishop is a minister of body and soul.
At the close of the Annual Assembly, Bishop Jose Luis de Miguel conducted his first episcopal duty, ordaining Antonio Suarez to the pastoral ministry in the Cartagena region. The festivities continued with the new pastor baptizing a baby girl at the same Mass.
In his greeting, Bishop Juhana Pohjola of the Mission Diocese encouraged the representatives of the congregations with the biblical promise that with the gifts of Christ, the fullness of the Church is present even in the smallest of congregations.