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Lutheran Church of Geneva celebrates 250 years

Lutheran Church of Geneva celebrates 250 years

The ELCG church building is recognised as a Swiss heritage historical monument. ©ELCG

09 June 2016

As members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Geneva (ELCG) celebrated 250 years in their sanctuary, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said the church embodies the statement: “To be Lutheran is to be ecumenical.”

Tveit is among the worshippers who regularly attend the church, which celebrated its historic anniversary on 4-5 June. The church is a spiritual home to many ecumenical workers and pilgrims who work in Geneva or visit the Swiss city.

“Probably this  is one of the very few churches around the world who take the WCC ecumenical prayer cycle so seriously and pray for those countries every Sunday,” said Tveit. “When I go to worship there I see so many of my colleagues that I wonder whether the other way around is also true with this church, that is, ‘to be ecumenical is to be Lutheran.’ ”

Rev. Dr Martin Junge, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, also worships in the ELCG. In a greeting, he drew a parallel to another significant historic milestone, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. He echoed Tveit’s acknowledgement of the ecumenical spirit of the church and underlined that the congregation “truly fulfills the principles of Lutheranism.”

The ELCG was started by the German merchants who were frequent visitors to Geneva. According to Dr Friedrich Lohmann, president of the ELCG church council, “the people who introduced the Lutheran preaching in Geneva were not born in Geneva, no Genevois-nés. They were German merchants stopping by who spread Luther’s message in Geneva way back in 1520.”

This trend has not changed since then, he reflected. Many Lutherans in Geneva are people stopping by, expats who spend just some years, even only some months in Geneva before returning to their respective home countries.

“We have, in our current Lutheran community here in Geneva, only a very small number of Genevois-nés, but we have people representing approximately 50 nations, and all five continents, which makes us arguably the most international religious community in Geneva,” he adds.

The ELCG church building is recognised as a Swiss heritage historical monument.

Visit the ELCG website