The International Lutheran Council (ILC) is a worldwide association of confessional Lutheran denominations. Member bodies of the ILC hold "an unconditional commitment to the Holy Scriptures as the inspired and infallible Word of God and to the Lutheran Confessions contained in the Book of Concord as the true and faithful exposition of the Word of God." The member church bodies are not required to be in church-fellowship with one another, though many of them are.
The organization was constituted in 1993 at a council held in Antigua, Guatemala, although it traces its roots back to theological conferences held in many locations during the 1950s and 1960s. It is to be distinguished from the Lutheran World Federation and the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference.
The Council has 54 participating churches as of 2018. Among its larger members are the Malagasy Lutheran Church, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil, and the Lutheran Church--Canada. Altogether, approximately 7,150,000 adherents belong to ILC member churches.
The Council's Chairman is Bishop Hans-Jörg Voigt of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church, Germany. The Executive Secretary is Albert B. Collver III of the LCMS. Delegates to the ILC meet every two years.
The organization has not accepted the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, an agreement reached by the Catholic Church's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the Lutheran World Federation, in 1999. The ILC has been involved in dialogue with the PCPCU, with a final report expected to be adopted in a near future.
The origins of the ILC go back to a meeting at Uelzen, Germany in July 1952 by Lutherans who were not happy with the theological course being taken by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Among the participants were delegates from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod who had been observers at the LWF assembly in Hannover. Other delegates were present from churches affiliated with the LCMS from Germany, Australia, Denmark, and the United Kingdom. Two further meetings were held, in Oakland, California, in 1958 and in Cambridge in August 1963. At the latter meeting it was decided to create a permanent organization, a "Continuation Committee", to act for the group in between meetings, which were now dubbed International Lutheran Theological Conferences. The committee was also tasked with publishing a theological journal and a committee bulletin, and with facilitating exchanges of pastors, theological professors, and students. However, the meeting explicitly disclaimed it was founding a group in opposition to the LWF.
Five more "theological conferences" were held until the name was shortened to International Lutheran Conference at the Eighth conference in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Resolutions passed during this period described the ILC as a partnership, forum, or "group of independent Lutheran churches". At the Fifteenth Conference in Antigua, Guatemala, the group decided on creating a more formal structure as an association of churches and adopted a document Guiding Principles which would serve as a constitution and theological point of reference. The "Continuation Committee" was replaced by an "Executive Council".
The ILC at their 2018 World Conference meeting, held in Antwerp, Belgium, on 25-26 September 2018, voted to admit 17 new church bodies, 11 as full members and 6 as associate members. This will increase the church members of ILC to 54 and their faithful to 7.15 million members.
By country in alphabetical order
Light green countries are home to one or more members or associate members of the International Lutheran Council
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina (Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Argentina)
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium (Evangelisch-Lutherse Kerk in België)
- Lutheran Church in Africa--Benin Synod
- Christian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bolivia (Iglesia Cristiana Evangélica Luterana de Bolivia) - also a member of the Global Confessional and Missional Lutheran Forum
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (Igreja Evangélica Luterana do Brasil)
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of Burkina Faso
- Lutheran Church--Canada
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Republic of Chile (Iglesia Evangélica Luterana de la República de Chile)
- Lutheran Church--Hong Kong Synod ()
- China, Republic of (Taiwan)
- China Evangelical Lutheran Church ()
- Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Denmark (Den evangelisk-lutherske Frikirke i Danmark) https://www.vivit.dk
- Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland (Finnish: Suomen evankelisluterilainen lähetyshiippakunta, Swedish: Evangelisk-lutherska missionsstiftet i Finland)
- Evangelical Lutheran Church-Synod of France (Église Évangélique Luthérienne - Synode de France)
- Independent Evangelical--Lutheran Church (Selbständige Evangelisch - Lutherische Kirche)
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana - also a full member of the Lutheran World Federation
- Lutheran Church of Guatemala (Consejo Luterano Iglesia Luterana en Guatemala)
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti (Eglise Evangelique Lutherienne D'Haiti)
- India Evangelical Lutheran Church - also a full member of the Lutheran World Federation
- Japan Lutheran Church () - also an associate member of the Lutheran World Federation
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya - also a full member of the Lutheran World Federation and a member of the Global Confessional and Missional Lutheran Forum
- Lutheran Church in Korea () - also a full member of the Lutheran World Federation
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia
- Malagasy Lutheran Church - also a full member of the Lutheran World Federation
- Lutheran Synod of Mexico (Sinodo Luterano de Mexico)
- Lutheran Church Synod of Nicaragua (Iglesia Luterana Sínodo de Nicaragua)
- Lutheran Church of Nigeria
- Lutheran Church in Norway (Den Lutherske Kirke i Norge)
- Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of Norway (Det evangelisk-lutherske stift i Norge)
- Gutnius Lutheran Church
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of Paraguay (Iglesia Evangélica Luterana del Paraguay)
- Evangelical Lutheran Church - Peru (Iglesia Evangélica Luterana - Perú) - also a member of the Global Confessional and Missional Lutheran Forum Note: this is not the same Lutheran denomination like Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en el Perú, known as Christuskirche, member of the Lutheran World Federation).
- Lutheran Church in the Philippines - also a full member of the Lutheran World Federation
- Portuguese Evangelical Lutheran Church
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia (- ? ) - also a full member of the Lutheran World Federation
- Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church ( ?- ?)
- Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa
- Lutheran Church in Southern Africa
- Spanish Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELE)
- Ceylon Evangelical Lutheran Church, replacement body for the Lanka Lutheran Church - also a full member of the Lutheran World Federation
- The Mission Province (Missionsprovinsen) - also a member of the Global Confessional and Missional Lutheran Forum
- Lutheran Church of Togo
- Lutheran Church of Uganda
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of England
- Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
- American Association of Lutheran Churches
- Lutheran Ministerium and Synod - USA
- Lutheran Church of Uruguay
- Lutheran Church of Venezuela (Iglesia Luterana de Venezuela)
- Lutheran Church of Australia - also an associate member of the Lutheran World Federation
- Indonesian Lutheran Christian Church - also a member of the Global Confessional and Missional Lutheran Forum
- Myanmar Lutheran Church - also a full member of the Lutheran World Federation
- Lutheran Mission in Africa--Synod of Thousand Hills
- St. Peter Confessional Lutheran Synod of South Africa
- South Sudan Evangelical Lutheran Church
- The Lutheran Church of the Republic of China - also a full member of the Lutheran World Federation