Mission Diocese’s ecclesial fellowship with Missouri Synod confirmed


The 68th Conventionof the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), a confessional Lutheran church in America, was held 29 July – 3 August 2023, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In their meeting every three years, the Convention elects persons to leadership and stewardship positions in the Church and decides on the common affairs of the Church. The canonical hours, Bible studies and catechetical moments punctuated the intense days of the meeting. The overall theme of this year’s meeting was: “We proclaim Christ crucified” (1 Cor 1:18-25). Nearly 3,000 Convention delegates, expert members, volunteers and invited guests gathered in the conference center. Over forty international guests from sister churches of the LCMS were invited to attend.

Bishop Juhana Pohjola and Missouri Synod President Matthew C. Harrison after the affirmation of ecclesial fellowship. Photo by LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford


Strengthening ecclesial fellowship

The agenda of the meeting included the strengthening of the ecclesial relationship with the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese. On Sunday 30 July, by a unanimous vote, the delegates approved the ecclesial fellowship agreement signed by President Matthew Harrison in 2020. Following the decision, the thousand-strong assembly stood and sang a Doxology to God. In his speech, Bishop Juhana Pohjola stressed how the mutual recognition of ecclesial communion is a good gift from God:
What a gift it is to proclaim Christ crucified together and to come together in faith to the same communion table. What a gift it is to support one another in prayer in the work of the Gospel and in the midst of difficulties. What a gift that we are sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus!

The Council also recognized ecclesial fellowship with Lutheran churches in South Sudan, Uganda, Ukraine and Sri Lanka.

Bishop Juhana Pohjola speaks at the Missouri Synod Assembly on 1 August 2023. Photo: LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford

Intercession and encouragement

Päivi Räsänen, Member of Parliament, and Bishop Juhana had been asked to tell the Convention about their court case concerning freedom of speech and religion. They were invited to share their first-hand experience and thoughts on the case. The encouragement and support in the convention hall was moving. The judicial process has generated a lot of interest and compassion, which is reflected in the many requests for interviews and hallway discussions. Many LCMS congregations have prayed for the case and for the Missionary Diocese.

Bishop Juhana was also invited to give one of the keynote lectures on the theme of the conference, We proclaim Christ – the redemption of the world.

Further reading:
Missouri Synod Convention pages
News of the establishment of ecclesial fellowship with the Missouri Synod at the 2020 Diocesan Assembly of the Diocese of the Missionary Diocese

Sami Niemi

Secretary of the Diocese

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