From the Worldwide Faith News archives

LWF Council Meeting Shifts Venue from Jerusalem to Geneva

Date 09 Feb 2001 05:13:26

Violence between Israel and Palestine Complicates Planning

JERUSALEM/GENEVA, 9 February 2001 (LWI) - The June 2001 Council meeting of
the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) will take place in Geneva, Switzerland
and not in Bethlehem and Jerusalem as originally scheduled.

The LWF Executive Committee, in consultation with the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in Jordan (ELCJ) bishop, Munib A.Younan, decided to change the venue
because of the present uncertain situation in Jerusalem/Bethlehem following
four months of violence between Israel and Palestine.

Bishop Younan said conditions in Palestine "with closures imposed by the
Israeli army restricting the movement of people, made it very difficult to
guarantee that the meeting could be held."

The LWF Executive Committee announced that the dates of the meeting, June 12
to 19, and the theme, "The Church: Called to a Ministry of Reconciliation"
will be retained for the Geneva meeting. Bishop Younan will deliver the
Sunday worship sermon on June 17.

At its June 2000 meeting in Finland, the Council, which is the governing
body of the LWF, had decided to hold its 2001 gathering in Jerusalem and

The LWF general secretary, Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko, noted that the original
decision to go to Bethlehem and Jerusalem was an "expression of togetherness
with our brothers and sisters there" and an "accompaniment of all peoples of
the region" in their search for a sustainable peace in the land of Christ's

Dr. Noko recognized that some LWF Council members were still committed to
participate in such an expression of the Lutheran communion despite the
increasing number of governments who are advising against travel to
Israel/Palestine. However, Dr. Noko said the federation has a special
responsibility for the safety and security of Council members in the
prevailing circumstances. With less than six month to go before the next
Council meeting, Geneva was decided to be the practical alternative site for
the meeting.

Bishop Younan said that changing the venue of the Council meeting should not
give the impression that the LWF is less interested in the people of the
region and their search for a just peace. He emphasized continued solidarity
of the Lutheran communion through pastoral work, educational efforts,
involvement in religious dialogues and other activities.

Bishop Younan said the theme of the Council meeting, chosen by the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan, is their conviction that the church's
role is one of "a bridge-builder for reconciliation and a just, lasting
peace between Palestinians and Israelis." The ELCJ is instrumental in
initiating opportunities to foster understanding and reconciliation between
the two peoples [Israelis and Palestinians] and the three monotheistic
religions [Christianity, Judaism and Islam], Younan added.

The Council will be urged to consider holding its 2002 meeting in Bethlehem.

(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran
tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund (Sweden), the LWF now has 131 member
churches in 72 countries representing over 60.2 million of the nearly 64
million Lutherans worldwide. The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches
in areas of common interest such as ecumenical relations, theology,
humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication, and the various
aspects of mission and development work. Its secretariat is located in
Geneva, Switzerland.)

[Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the information service of the Lutheran
World Federation (LWF). Unless specifically noted, material presented does
not represent positions or opinions of the LWF or of its various units.
Where the dateline of an article contains the notation (LWI), the material
may be freely reproduced with acknowledgement.]

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