International Seminars for Pastors

For many Lutheran pastors and theologians worldwide, a visit to the city of the Reformation is a heartfelt wish. Also, meeting colleagues from different countries and continents in Lutherstadt Wittenberg – living, studying, and praying together – provides fresh theological perspectives and promotes spiritual renewal and encouragement. With this goal in mind, the LWF Center Wittenberg offers international seminars for pastors and theologians from member churches of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF). The two-week events take place in March and November every year.

During that time, participants study texts by Martin Luther and their current relevance in various contexts under the skilled academic leadership of international teachers. Exchange with participants from the seven regions of the LWF on their experiences complements the study of texts.

Excursions to sites of the Reformation or other places related to the conference theme add to the program. Also, meeting congregations in the surrounding area allows mutual insights into the church situation of the visitors and the hosts. The local congregations and their guests from across the world come together for joint prayers and Sunday services.

Each day begins with a devotion led by one of the seminar participants. An inspiring exchange between different liturgical and cultural traditions and forms of worship comes to life here. During the seminar, participants present their churches, describing their current strengths and challenges.

After 14 days filled with profound encounters, a fellowship connects the seminar participants long after they depart from Wittenberg. It shapes the living experience of the global communion of the LWF.

The seminars are held in English.

Upcoming Seminars

2nd - 16th March 2024
International Seminar for Pastors from LWF member churches

2nd - 16th November 2024
International Seminar for Pastors from LWF member churches

Participation Criteria

An invitation to each seminar is sent to the church leadership of the member churches of the LWF. They then approach qualified applicants in their church.

Also, persons interested in attending a seminar may contact their church leaders, who can then nominate them.

The LWF Center Wittenberg selects the participants in consultation with the LWF Communion Office in Geneva from the applications received. Criteria such as regional affiliation, a balanced ratio of men and women, age distribution, etc., play an essential role. Nominees who are not selected for a seminar can reapply for the next seminar.

Good proficiency in English is required for participation in the seminar.

“Different people, different languages, one goal: to spread the Gospel all over the world. In Wittenberg solidified in Lutheran theology and strengthened by a worldwide community and personal friendship. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to making the seminar such an extraordinary experience. “

Rev. Dr. Pia Nikola Schmutzler, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony, Germany
Photo: LWF/A. Weyermüller

Impressions from the Seminars

During the 15th International Seminar in March 2017: (from left) Rev. Lynne Hutchison and Prof. Dr. Gordon Jensen (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada), and Rev. Gerda Jessen (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark). Photo: LWF Center Wittenberg
“This seminar was a priceless experience for me. I come from a country where pastors do not have the opportunity to study at a Lutheran seminary. Therefore, to have the opportunity here in Wittenberg to learn about our theology and doctrine from two outstanding professors is wonderful. Also, it is very special to share and learn about the ways of life of our faith in different countries around the world; I will cherish that forever,” says Rev. Dr. Claudia Soliette López Ortega (The Nicaraguan Lutheran Church of Faith and Hope). She participated in the 18th International Seminar held in November 2018. Photo: C. Woodward
Participants of the 18th International Seminar visit the Wittenberg Castle Church in November 2018. Photo: LWF Center Wittenberg
On a culinary trip around the world, here with a dish from Southern Africa: Rev. Zelda Cossa (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mozambique) and other participants of the 15th International Seminar held in March 2015 prepare dinner. Photo: LWF Center Wittenberg
Worship service at St. Mary’s Town Church in Wittenberg in November 2017 with participants of the 16th International Seminar: (from left) Rev. Joachim Zirkler, (LWF Center Wittenberg), Rev. Annika Laats (Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church), and Rev. Dr. Priestly Balasingh (India Evangelical Lutheran Church). Photo: LWF Center Wittenberg
“The seminar opened a window through which the Holy Spirit could blow through my heart and my thinking. The seminar leaders and participants from all over the world gave me fresh ideas and new perspectives for my congregation and intercultural dialogue. Despite all differences, our Lutheran faith unites us,” said Rev. Kendra Wilde (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), who attended the 17th International Seminar in March 2018. Here she signs the Golden Book of Wittenberg. Photo: LWF Center Wittenberg
Participants of the 19th International Seminar visiting Leipzig Mission in March 2019. Photo: LWF Center Wittenberg
Bishop Kenneth Sibanda (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe): “I was encouraged by learning together and sharing different experiences. I have come to understand that Christ is at work in sisters and brothers around the world.” Sibanda was a participant in the 18th Seminar held in November 2018. Photo: LWF Center Wittenberg
Rev. Darwin Mangasi Tua Butarbutar (Christian Protestant Angkola Church, Indonesia) and Rev. Marion Bazo (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mozambique) standing in front of the portrait of Philip Melanchthon. They participated in the 17th International Seminar held in March 2018. Photo: LWF Center Wittenberg
Rev. Petra Schautt (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Württemberg) leads a morning devotion with participants of the 17th International Seminar at Corpus Christi Chapel. Photo: LWF Center Wittenberg
A proven team of teachers: (from left) Prof. Dr. Theodor Dieter and Prof. Dr. Sarah Hinlicky Wilson have led the November theological seminars for many years. Photo: LWF Center Wittenberg
Participants of the 17th International Seminar during a visit to Wartburg Castle in Eisenach in March 2018. Martin Luther lived here incognito for several months as “Junker Jörg” and translated the New Testament into German. Photo: LWF Center Wittenberg
Holiharifetra Rakotondramiadana (left), a woman theologian of the Malagasy Lutheran Church, and Tommi Vuorinen, a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland serving in Australia, standing in front of St. Mary Town Church. Both participated in the 17th International Seminar in March 2018. Photo: LWF/A. Weyermüller
Meeting with Wittenberg citizens at the English Conversation Group: (from left) Rev. Constance N. Mamba (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa), in conversation with Rev. Peggy Paugh Leuzinger (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), during the18th International Seminar, November 2018. Photo: LWF Center Wittenberg
“The seminar helped me feel part of the worldwide communion of Lutheran pastors. Sitting around one table, we could have conversations as Luther did, we shared the body and blood of Christ as Luther taught. What I received are treasures: A reformed heart and renewed faith,” says Rev. Katalin Chikan (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary), who participated in the 16th Seminar held in November 2017. Photo: LWF Center Wittenberg

Do you have questions about our seminars?

Please contact us. We are happy to answer your questions.

Further Seminars

International Seminars for Laypersons in Church Leadership
Retreat of Newly Elected Leaders (RoNEL)
International Seminars for Alumni
Seminars for Groups from LWF Member Churches
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