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Theology Conference Draws Church Leaders Worldwide

A view from Marburg Castle

CHICAGO, IL (September 25, 2008) – Scholars and church leaders from 20 nations around the world joined their colleagues at the 2008 International Federation of Free Evangelical Churches (IFFEC) conference in Ewersbach, Germany, to discuss the theological and cultural challenges facing their countries and their churches. The conference, which takes place every four years, united participants for five days of dialogue, workshops, and worship from September 8-12. Issues addressed included women in pastoral ministry, baptism, and the nature of the church.

The IFFEC traces its roots to the pietistic revivals of northern Europe and the United States. North Park University’s founding denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church, and the Evangelical Free Church grew out of these great revivals.

President and Dean of North Park Theological Seminary, Dr. John Phelan, has helped with the planning of four conferences and serves as chair of the IFFEC theological committee. He notes that this year’s meeting was the best. “The topics were timely, the participants were highly involved, and the lectures were provocative and fascinating,” he said, adding that North Park faculty did extremely well.

Seminary faculty who attended included Dr. Michelle Clifton-Soderstrom and Dr. Klyne Snodgrass, who presented a paper entitled “A Case for the Unrestricted Ministry of Women.” This discussion was especially significant to the German Free Church, which voted on the full inclusion of women in ministry the following week.

Toward the conclusion of the conference, attendees enjoyed an excursion to the town of Marburg, visiting the majestic St. Elizabeth’s Church and Marburg Castle, where reformers Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli held a famous debate over the nature of the Lord’s Supper.