The first Lutheran-Orthodox contacts took place already in the sixteenth century, through a visit of a Romanian Orthodox deacon to Wittenberg, where he befriended Melanchthon. Melanchthon and others undertook a translation of the Augsburg Confession into Greek for the benefit of the Ecumenical Patriarch, but the text never reached him. Several decades later, in the 1570s, many letters were exchanged between the Lutheran theologians in Tübingen and Jeremias II, the Patriarch of Constantinople at that time. The spirit of the exchange was irenic and interested, though the two parties were not able to establish much common ground.

The Orthodox entered the ecumenical movement right at its beginning in the second decade of the twentieth century, but bilateral dialogue with Lutherans didn’t begin until late in the century. After some years of mutual interest and negotiation, the first formal meeting of the Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission took place in Espoo, Finland, in 1981. Following after and running alongside a number of highly successful regional dialogues, the Joint Commission had met every year without fail since its inauguration and has produced twelve statements, which can be accessed below.

Divine Revelation (3rd Plenary, Allentown 1985)

Scripture and Tradition (4rd, Crete 1987)

The Canon and the Inspiration of the Holy Scripture (5th, Bad Segeberg 1989)

Authority in and of the Church: A. The Ecumenical Councils (7th, Sandbjerg 1993)

Authority in and of the Church: B. Understanding of Salvation in the Light of the Ecumenical Councils (8th, Limassol 1995)

Authority in and of the Church: C. Salvation: Grace, Justification and Synergy (9th, Sigtuna 1998)

The Mystery of the Church A. Word and Sacraments (Mysteria) in the Life of the Church (10th, Damascus 2000)

The Mystery of the Church B. Mysteria/ Sacraments as Means of Salvation (11th, Oslo 2002)

The Mystery of the Church C. Baptism and Chrismation as Sacraments of Initiation into the Church (12th,Durau 2004)

The Mystery of the Church D. The Holy Eucharist in the Life of the Church (13th, Bratislava 2006)

The Mystery of the Church D.2 The Holy Eucharist in the Life of the Church. Preparation, Ecological and Social Implications (14th, Paphos 2008)

The Mystery of the Church E. The Nature, Attributes, and Mission of the Church (15th, Wittenberg 2011)

Prof. Risto Saarinen of the Theological Faculty at the University of Helsinki and a former member of the Institute staff has helpfully archived almost all of these statements, as well as many of those coming from regional dialogues, on his website. He is also the author of an essential book on the topic of Lutheran-Orthodox dialogue: Faith and Holiness: Lutheran-Orthodox Dialogue 1959-1994 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1997).