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Bishop Dieter Reinstorf

New FELSISA Bishop for South Africa

Bishop Helmut Paul (centre-front) and other newly elected members of FELSISA’s Synodical Council.

SOUTH AFRICA – The Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa (FELSISA) held its synodical convention May 25-27, during which time the church elected a new bishop: Rev. Helmut Paul. The installation service took place on May 27 in Lüneburg, South Africa, with retiring Bishop Dieter Reinstorf officiating. 

Bishop Helmut Paul

“I rejoice in the election of Rev. Helmut Paul as the new FELSISA bishop,” said Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill, General Secretary of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). “It has been a joy working with him in his capacity as Deputy Bishop and as a student in the ILC’s Lutheran Leadership Development Program (LLDP). I look forward to continuing the close relationship between the ILC and the FELSISA with him in the future.”

“Bishop Paul is a gifted theologian and pastor and exhibits a joyful and humble spirit,” Dr. Quill continued. “Though his participation in the LLDP he has developed a warm, collegial relationship with many of the leaders in the African Region of the ILC.”

Prior to his election, Bishop Paul served the FELSISA as Deputy Bishop. He was ordained on September 17, 2011 in Wittenberg, South Africa, by Bishop Reinstorf. He currently serves as pastor of St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran in Durban.

Bishop Paul studied ancient languages at the University of Pretoria. He then studied theology at the Lutherische Theologische Hochschule in Oberursel, Germany, during which time he also served as an exchange student at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He was also among the first class of graduates from the ILC’s Lutheran Leadership Development Program in 2022.

Bishop Paul succeeds Rev. Dr. Dieter Reinstorf, who became bishop of the FELSISA in 2010. He reached the age of retirement on May 31, 2023. During his tenure, Bishop Reinstorf also served on the ILC’s Board of Directors as the World Region representative for Africa.

“It has been a pleasure working with Bishop Reinstorf the past four years since I became General Secretary of the ILC,” Dr. Quill noted. “His ecclesial wisdom and knowledge of the ILC and the African region has been a great help.”

The synodical convention also saw the election of other officers for the FELSISA’s Synodical Council, including Rev. Kurt Schnackenberg of Johannesburg as Deputy Bishop; Rev. Martin R. Paul (Pretoria); Lutz Böhmer (Newcastle); and Rupert Uhlmann (Wartburg).  


With notes from a FELSISA report

FELSISA reelects Bishop Reinstorf, discusses social instability in South Africa

FELSISA’s newly elected Synodical Council: Rev. Kurt Schnackenberg, Lutz Böhmer, Bishop Dieter Reinstorf, Deputy Bishop Helmut Paul, and Harald Niebuhr.

SOUTH AFRICA – The Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa (FELSISA) convened for its 61st Synodical Convention in Pretoria from September 15-17, 2018, at which time Rev. Dr. Dieter Reinstorf was reelected Bishop for another four year term. Elected as Deputy Bishop was Rev. Helmut Paul.

FELSISA Bishop Dieter Reinstorf.

The theme for this year’s convention was: “Christ is my life: Constructive responses from the faith community to the present social and political challenges in South Africa,” based on Philippians 1:21. In recent years South Africa has been marked by political instability with the ruling party considering amending the constitution of the country to pave the way for land expropriation without compensation. If this bill should be passed, FELSISA would be directly affected in that most of its members still form part of the agricultural sector. On the other hand there are social inequalities in South Africa that can be traced back directly to the apartheid era that simply need to be addressed. As keynote speaker for the conference, Prof. Dr. Piet Meiring (a pastor and academic of the Dutch Reformed church, as well as a former member of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission) was invited to give two presentations with group and plenary discussions. Dr. Meiring’s presentations drew in particular on Jeremiah 29 and Micah 4, and the FELSISA convention was deeply enriched through the presentations.

Among other business, the convention decided to review and expand on the church’s ecumenical guidelines document (Explanations and Guidelines for Ecumenical Encounters)This decision was taken in the hope of gaining greater clarity and uniformity of practice in ever changing contexts where a clear confession of Christ needs to be spoken.


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