Evangelical Lutheran Church of Albania; treatment of members [ALB42316.E]

In 2000, Missionaries of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) reported that in their experience, they felt safe and found few concerns in their experience in Albania (2004a). In the winter of 2001, WELS further recommended that the security situation and living conditions in Albania were favourable for the establishment of a resident mission (WELS 2004b). More generally, the International Religious Freedom Report 2003 published by the US Department of State (DOS), stated that the relationships among religions is "generally amicable" and Albanian society is tolerant of religious difference (18 Dec. 2003, Sec. 3). Furthermore, the report stated that while registration is necessary, no foreign religious organizations reported difficulties in this process and they carry out their activities freely (International Religious Freedom Report 2003 18 Dec. 2003, Sec. 1-2).

The Research Directorate found few English-language references to Evangelical Lutheran congregations or missions in Albania among the sources consulted. In 1996 WELS missionaries registered the Kisha Ungjillore Konfessionale Luteriane në Shqipëri (Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church in Albania, CELC) in Durrës (WELS 2004a). The Church was set up following WELS missions to Durrës, Kavajë, Tirana and Korcë in 1995 and 1996 and it held its first services on 8 December 1996 (ibid.).

The Albanian Evangelical Alliance (AEA) lists a Tirana-based Evangelical Lutheran Church (Kisha Ungjillore Luteriane) among its member congregations (n.d.). What relationship the Tirana church has with the Durrës congregations founded by WELS, if any, is not clear among the sources consulted.

The WELS reports that it has baptized 50 national members in Albania and its congregation in Durres averages 151 worshipers weekly (ibid. 2004c). The church in Durrës also serves groups in Pogradec (up to 15 persons) and Korca (up to 30 persons) (ibid. 2004d). The majority of the Durrës congregation are widows and widowers with a small number of younger people and less than 20 per cent being employed (ibid.). No further information on the Tirana-based church noted by the AEA, or the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Albanian was found among the sources consulted.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References


The Albanian Evangelical Alliance (AEA). n.d. "VUSH-Member Contact List." http://www.vush.org/members%20content%20list.htm [Accessed 16 Feb. 2004]

International Religious Freedom Report 2003. 18 December 2003. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2003/24328.htm [Accessed 16 Feb. 2004]

Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). 2004a. "BWM: AL-Extended History." http://www.wels.net/cgi-bin/site.pl?2617&collectionID=681&contentID=1158&shortcutID=1717 [Accessed 16 Feb. 2004]

_____. 2004b. "BWM: AL-Brief Mission History." http://www.wels.net/cgi-bin/site.pl?2617&collectionID=681&contentID=1157&shortcutID=1718 [Accessed 16 Feb. 2004]

_____. 2004c. "BWM: AL-Mission Statistics." http://www.wels.net/cgi-bin/site.pl?2617&collectionID=681&contentID=1159&shortcutID=1719 [Accessed 16 Feb. 2004]

_____. 2004d. "BWM: AL-Mission Updates." http://www.wels.net/cgi-bin/site.pl?2617&collectionID=681&contentID=1163&shortcutID=1723 [Accessed 16 Feb. 2004]

Additional Sources Consulted


The Danish Lutheran Church of Vancouver was unable to provide information on its support of Albanian Lutherans

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod did not respond to inquiries within the time constraints of this Response

Internet sites, including:

Adherents.com

Albanian Christians

Barnabus Fund

Danish Lutheran Church of Vancouver

European Evangelical Alliance

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Interconfessional Bible Society of Albania

International Religious Freedom Report 2002

The Lutheran

Lutheran World Federation

Lutheran World Relief

Persecution.org

Religious Movements

Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod

World Council of Churches

World Evangelical Alliance