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Abstract

This paper explores how and to what extent the Lutheran Church in Slovakia living and seeking to fulfill its mission in a socialist political context governed by the Communist party was encouraged or sustained by its involvement in the global Christian community. Our church was a founding member of the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation and the Conference of European Churches. During the years of the Cold War our church was able to maintain contact with churches and Christians on the other side of the global political divide through other Christian bodies as well, like the “Gustav Adolf Werk” and the “Martin Luther Bund” in the Federal Republic of Germany and other ecumenical and evangelical networks. It first describes the context: state-church relations and the means by which the state sought to control the churches, on the one hand, and the content and extent of public and unofficial activities of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovakia during this period on the other. It relies on two main sources. The first is through research into the public statements, the church press and the reports of the Church’s decision-making bodies and by collecting personal recollections and testimonies of the surviving witnesses of the period and comparing the two. It also reviews press reports and statements that record the positive impact of our faithful of our uninterrupted involvement in ecumenical organizations and our own world Christian Communion. The study shows how these organizations became bridges of mutual communication despite the limitations imposed during the Cold War. Though they were under close surveillance by different forces, these bridges were effective and served the purposes of the Kingdom of God brought to this world by Jesus Christ. It also demonstrates that the impact of these relationships were not always immediately obvious. Their fruits were often harvested later, in due time. During and after our liberation from totalitarian political systems and the animosity of the Cold War, many of those who walked across those bridges to maintain communion with others contributed to the construction of a new era out of their experiences of being part of the World Christian Community.

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