Overview – Lutherans in Great Britain
We are a very diverse church, worshipping in a variety of languages including English, Polish, Nordic, Mandarin and Cantonese, Swahili. We are Christians from all parts of the world, drawn together by our shared faith and common Lutheran heritage.
Our Church is a member of the Porvoo Communion, which is a fellowship of Anglican and Lutheran Churches in Great Britain and Ireland, the Nordic region, Iberia and the Baltic countries. This agreement has established altar and pulpit fellowship between the signatory Churches, making members of each of the Churches in all but formal terms members of each other’s Churches.
We are a member of the Lutheran World Federation – a global communion of 148 churches in the Lutheran tradition, representing over 75.5 million Christians in 99 countries, sharing the vision „Liberated by God’s grace, a communion in Christ living and working together for a just, peaceful, and reconciled world“. We are also part of the Lutheran Council of Great Britain, which provides facilities, financial and administrative support and advice for pastors and congregation members.
Our identity as Lutherans is rooted in the Bible and our history. We proclaim the “good news” of Christ’s life, his death on the cross, and his resurrection. Together we witness that, despite our sins, we are accepted unconditionally: forgiven, saved and justified by God’s grace for Christ’s sake through faith alone. We center our worship of the Triune God in the proclamation of the Word of God, both law and gospel, and in the sacraments. We are freed by Christ in faith to love and serve our neighbor.
Our Lutheran heritage in practice looks that we share much of our liturgy, we sing many of the same hymns in many different languages because music is important to many Lutheran traditions. Preaching is a vital part of our services, as we believe the Word of God comes to us through sermons. Holy Communion is also highly valued, as Lutherans believe that Christ is really present in bread and wine.
The LCiGB was founded in April 1961 as the United Lutheran Synod, bringing together four congregations. St John’s in London (now St Anne’s) was a daughter congregation of St Marienkirche, one of the German Lutheran congregations in London. Augsburg (High Wycombe) and St Paul’s (Corby) were congregations of mostly European refugees and their families. Holy Trinity (Hothorpe Hall and surrounding area) served the Lutheran conference centre. Very shortly afterwards, another English-speaking congregation, the International Lutheran Congregation in Leicester, joined the newly formed Synod. In the mid-1960s monthly services in English were started by the German-speaking congregation in Nottingham. We became a Church for the old and new migrants to the UK and to local people.
The LCiGB joined the Lutheran World Federation in 1988. On 3 October 2010 our Church was formally accepted as an observer in the Porvoo Communion of Churches and became full member in 2014.
The Association of Polish Lutheran Congregations (APLC), formed in 1997, is the successor to Polish Lutheran Church Abroad formed in 1948. It was abolished, as a separate Church from the Church in Poland, after democracy came to Poland in 1990. However Polish congregations continued to exist, hence the APLC, and most of them belong to LCiGB.
What’s in a name?
When we joined the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in 1988, our Church had only recently changed its name to Lutheran Church in Great Britain. We wanted an acronym, and it seemed obvious that it should be LCGB. However, this also sounded like the Lutheran Council of Great Britain. It would be confusing to say that the LCGB is a member of the LCGB! Hence we added the first letter of “in”, to form our acronym. Hence we are the LCiGB.
LCiGB Statement of Faith
The Lutheran Church in Great Britain confesses one Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier.
1. This church confesses Jesus Christ, truly God and truly human, as Lord of the Church and Saviour of the world. In Christ, God’s Word Incarnate, God reveals His divine love to all sinful humankind. The proclamation of God’s gracious action in Jesus Christ towards all of creation is Gospel or Good News to all humanity. This Church holds that through the Gospel, God’s Holy Spirit calls and sustains the Church through the gift of faith. In this gift of faith God reconciles us to Himself and frees believers to live in love towards God, one another and all people.
2. This Church acknowledges the Holy Scriptures as the sole norm for the faith and the life of the Church. The Holy Scriptures are the divinely inspired record of God’s redemptive act in Christ, for which the Old Testament prepared the way and which the New Testament proclaims. In the continuation of this proclamation in the Church, God still speaks through the Holy Scriptures and realises His redemptive purpose generation after generation.
3. This Church accepts the Three Ecumenical Creeds and the Lutheran Confessions, especially the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, and Luther’s Small Catechism, as pure expositions of the Word of God, and acknowledges as one with it in faith and doctrine all churches that likewise accept the teaching of these symbols.
4. This Church accepts the other symbolical books of the evangelical Lutheran faith; i.e. The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, The Smalcald Articles, Luther’s Large Catechism and the Formula of Concord as further valid interpretations of the confession of this Church.
5. This Church affirms that the Gospel is transmitted by the Holy Scriptures, to which the creeds and confessions bear witness. It is the true treasure of the Church, the substance of its proclamation and the basis of its unity and continuity. In both Word and Sacraments Christ comes to us, and the Holy Spirit creates and sustains Christian faith and life; in Baptism we are incorporated into Christ, and in Holy Communion Christ comes to us most personally and gives us forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
6. This Church affirms that as baptized Christians we are all children of God, at once sinners and saints. We welcome each other as worshippers and servants of Christ. We encourage all Christian people, having thus been incorporated into the priesthood of all believers, to express their faith in the Church and in daily life.
7. This Church affirms the special ministry of proclamation of the Gospel in the Apostolic tradition and administration of the Sacraments. Through the ministry of Word and Sacraments, exercised together with diaconal service, the Church fulfils its divine mission and purpose.
8. This Church affirms the call of the Gospel to unity, reconciliation and healing. We therefore commit ourselves to the pursuit of all that makes for unity within the One Body of Christ.
9. This Church affirms the God-given human dignity of all people, rejoicing in the diversity of God’s creation. We commit ourselves to always struggle for justice, peace and the integrity of creation.
The points below provide a sketch of who we are and how we worship together as a body – we would love to welcome you to join us and experience for yourself what it means to worship as part of the LCiGB. Please see our Services page to find an LCiGB congregation worshipping in your language.
Who are we?
- We are a very diverse church, worshipping in a variety of languages including English, Polish, Nordic, Mandarin and Cantonese, Swahili.
- We are a family of congregations.
- We are Christians from all parts of the world, drawn together by our shared faith and common Lutheran heritage.
- We share a belief in the historic creeds of the Christian church: Nicene, Apostles’ and Athanasian
- We believe the confessional documents of the Church are pure expositions of faith, especially: The Augsburg Confession and Luther’s Catechisms
- We believe that the Bible expresses the Word of God, and it is our sole reference point for doctrine and faith.
What does our heritage look like in practice?
- We share much of our liturgy.
- We sing many of the same hymns in many different languages.
- Music is important to many Lutheran traditions.
- Preaching is a vital part of our services, as we believe the Word of God comes to us through sermons.
- Holy Communion is also highly valued, as Lutherans believe that Christ is really present in bread and wine.
What does the LCiGB do for ministers of the church?
- We offer financial support to Pastors of LCiGB.
- We provide, and are developing further, continuing education for Pastors.
- We provide retreats and meetings for all ministers of the LCiGB, and offer them pastoral support (the Bishop is Pastor to the Pastors).
What does LCiGB do for its member Congregations?
- We support Congregations and their Councils with advice and practical help, including with financial and governance matters
- A new model constitution for congregations is being made available free of charge, compatible with current charity law.
- Members of LCiGB Council are available for advice and consultation in their areas of professional expertise.
- We offer grants to congregations for special projects, thanks particularly to generous funding from the Lutheran Council of Great Britain.
What else does LCiGB do for its congregations?
- We organise events for ministers and congregation members, such as pilgrimages , the Annual Women’s Retreat, and seminars dealing with various issues.
- We organise pastoral cover for congregations during vacancies.
- We have a website that gives information about the church, as well as a frequently updated Facebook page.
What about the wider picture?
- We are members of the Lutheran Council of Great Britain, which provides facilities, financial and administrative support and advice for pastors and congregation members, as well as individual events such Administrators’ Study Days.
- We are members of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), which carries out work that small churches cannot do ourselves: that includes development and mission work through the Department for World Service, publishing books and theological work, representation of Lutheranism on the world stage and so on.
What does the future hold?
- Whatever God wills for us.
- Some reorganization to enable more efficient ministry and better supported congregations. This will be done in consultation with those involved.
- An expanded central administration which will enable congregations to concentrate on their mission by taking on some of the administrative burden.
- More cohesion and joint prayer and study.
What are our visions for the future?
- Developing a focus on justice, service, and diakonia.
- Greater co-operation among Lutherans in this country.
- Renewed focus on common worship and prayer.