From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Holistic understanding brings faith and society together

Date 22 Oct 1998 06:52:04

LWF project "Communion, Community, Society"

GENEVA, 19 October 1998 (lwi) - How does the church understand itself in
its social context? How does it respond to central social conflicts and
challenges? These are the two central questions which the eight-person,
international core group of the project, "Communion, Community, Society" of
the Department for Theology and Studies (DTS) in the Lutheran World
Federation (LWF ) is discussing with Lutherans, lay people and theologians
in different regions of the world. Following a first regional meeting in
India, the second consultation took place at the end of August, beginning
of September in Moshi, Tanzania (cf. LWI 20/97 and 7/98). Participants came
from Tanzania, Namibia, Madagascar, Kenya, Congo, Cameroon, Ethiopia,
Liberia and Zimbabwe.

The presentations and discussions were accompanied by concrete experiences
of the life of church and society. "This project cultivates not only the
theological discourse but also dialogue with representatives of
congregations, projects, social organizations," Wolfgang Greive, the DTS
program secretary, emphasized. "For this reason, we are visiting both
institutions of these organizations and the congregational local worship
services". Greive was impressed by the church's presence in Tanzanian
society. Its holistic understanding, he said, unites the community of
believers and results in commitments to social action. The new focus on the
concept of communion is also a challenge for Lutheran churches in Africa
today, he continued. He believes one of the core questions to be how an
autonomous church, independently of the West, can effectively manifest its
presence as a communion in society. He admitted to there being a lack of
funds and strategies for the future.

According to Greive, the African Lutheran churches are particularly
challenged to deal with the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Dean L. M. Dube from
Zimbabwe said that, "Because of the Lutheran theology of the cross and the
Lutheran doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith, we have no
choice but to provide medical, educational, practical/material, spiritual
and pastoral care to those affected by the AIDS pandemic without

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Lutheran World Information
Editorial Assistant: Janet Bond-Nash

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