2022 World Congress: ILC Issues Statement on Liturgy and Culture, Plans for Statement Denying Virtual Communion


Incoming ILC President Juhana Pohjola preaching in Machin on the final morning of the ILC’s 2022 World Congress.

Kenya – On the morning of the final day of the 2022 World Congress of the International Lutheran Council (ILC), a statement on liturgy and culture was adopted, with a unanimous decision to make a statement refusing virtual communion.

The first session of the day started with an early service. The ILC Assistant General Secretary, Rev. Roger James, served as the liturgist, and the incoming ILC Chair, Bishop Juhana Pohjola delivered the sermon. Bishop Pohjola’s sermon focused on John 10:11-16 and referred to the memorial of Saint Cyprian.

After early classes, Reverend Alexei Streltsov, Rector of the Lutheran Seminary in Novosibirsk, Russia, presented the conference’s final papers. Revision of Liturgical Space and Time in the Age of “Virtual Worship”

Rev. Dr. Alexei Streltsov

“My suggestion is that there is a conflict between our subscription to the Bible and the Lutheran Confession and our reliance on virtual formats for conducting worship services (particularly those involving the Lord’s Supper).” said Dr. Streltsov during his lecture. And while he was aware that many Lutheran churches around the world relied on online technology to reach members during the pandemic, Dr. Streltsov made “virtual worship” the norm. It warned that allowing parting “is a philosophically and theologically questioned decision.” size.

“Our traditional Lutheran liturgy emphasizes the actual presence of Jesus in the words and sacraments offered to us in a concrete, earthly setting,” he noted. Another understanding of worship would rather center on the worshiper’s personal sense of mental and emotional comfort, self-sufficiency, and self-realization on behalf of the worshiper. The two different understandings are that they are not comparable.”

The presentation was followed by a lively discussion on virtual worship.

Reports on Liturgy and Culture

After a break, the meeting considered summary statements on liturgy and culture. Here are the key points extracted from the presentation and the discussion that followed. This summary has been adopted by common consent. Here are the main points:

  • “Church is basically a gathering of people around the Lord of the Church, meeting Him, hearing His voice, accepting Him, and receiving His blessings for another week ‘in the world’. The liturgy includes the words and deeds by which Jesus is present before the glory of the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. ”

    “Conscious that the Word of God constitutes our worship, and our confession shapes our worship, the Church seeks to balance the truth of Jesus’ existence with His people, and the Word of God.” This has particular relevance to liturgical revisions, new ordinances, new hymns, and liberal changes in rubrics. The Church’s Catholicism must be preserved against new deceptions.”

    “Today, language and identity are more and more fluid. The Church is increasingly realizing that the world is going against a God who has always loved her. Thus saith the Lord, when the liturgy is faithful to the Lord of the Church who wants all people to be saved and come to a holy place, the Church You can “survive such a storm”. knowledge of truth. In the liturgy, Jesus draws all to himself and enables people to live life in abundance. Because it produces a embodied community and a witness.

A full abstract will be published online soon.

virtual communion

Later in the day, the World Congress also approved a procedure to issue a statement rejecting virtual communion as contrary to the Bible and the Lutheran Confession.

The proposed text was approved unanimously in principle, with additional instructions given to the Board to prepare the final version for release in mid-December 2022.


Mathew Block is Communications Manager for the International Lutheran Council. He is also the editor of The Canadian Lutheran magazine and previously he was the communications manager for the Lutheran Church-Canada.