The Lutheran Church in Liberia has called on the Christian community and all people of faith, regardless of the religion, to join the 20th celebration of the Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification this Sunday, 27 October at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church on 14th Street, Sinkor at 2pm.
The signing of the JDDJ by the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church in October 1999 after years of intense dialogue, essentially resolved a 500 – year – old conflict over the nature of justification which was at the root of the Protestant Reformation.
Addressing journalists Thursday, 24 October at his 13th Street compound ahead of the celebration, Rev. Dr. D. Jensen Seyenkulo, Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Liberia says this joint declaration is a major document that shows how much progress the Churches have made towards the achievement of Christian unity.
“The creation of this document demonstrates to us that no matter what differences we may have, that we are intentional in working together we can do the impossible,” Bishop Seyenkulo asserts.
The press briefing was called to update the public on what will be happening this weekend, marking the 502nd years of Reformation Day celebration of the Lutheran Church, together with its Catholic counterpart and all the protestant Churches in the Republic of Liberia.
According to Bishop Seyenkulo, the most significant point of disagreement that led to the split [of the Church] – called the Reformation – was the Doctrine of Justification [on the question of] how they [human beings] are put right with God.
Bishop Seyenkulo, flanked by other Lutheran Church officials including Rev. Dr. Tolbert Thomas Jallah, Dean of the Monrovia District of the Lutheran Church of Liberia and Atty. Naomi Ford – Wilson, General Secretary of the Lutheran Church of Liberia, notes that the Reformers took the position that human beings are unable to make themselves right with God, arguing instead that only God can make people right with himself through their faith.
But he says the Roman Catholic Church at the time disagreed, leading to a stand off between those who followed Luther and those who believed in the traditional teaching of the Church at the time.
“That split led to distrust, abuses, violence and destruction of lives and properties for centuries,” he adds.Since the signing of the JDDJ in October 1999, the Lutheran Bishop indicates that other Church bodies have adopted it, including the World Methodist Council, the Episcopal Church and the World Communion of Reformed Churches which include the Presbyterian Church.
He indicates that the very event that marked the split in the Church in the 16th century has become the rallying point for the Churches.Bishop Seyenkulo details that 2019 marks the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church.
He recalls that in November 2017, the Christian community in Liberia assembled at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, bringing together Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Baptists, Pentecostals and Lutherans, among others.
The gathering of these denominations according to the Lutheran Bishop was possible because the general climate in Christendom is changing more rapidly.By Winston W. Parley