From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
New Year Message from the LWF General Secretary
"Frank Imhoff" <email@example.com>
Fri, 21 Dec 2001 09:08:27 -0600
"Responding to the Challenges of Our Time"
GENEVA, 21 December 2001 (LWI) - Pointing to key concerns in
2001-intractable escalating violence in the Middle East; the
terrorist attacks in the United States of America and subsequent
military campaign in Afghanistan; a declining global economy; a
deepening global HIV/AIDS pandemic and globalization among others-the
General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Rev. Dr.
Ishmael Noko, in his New Year message, reminds churches of their
common responsibility in responding to the myriad challenges facing
In the face of the obvious inequities and injustices of economic
globalization, Noko says, "we are empowered to respond as a communion
in which both 'winners' and 'losers' in the global marketplace are
brought together around the Lord's table."
Noko invokes the church's spirit of compassion rather than judgement,
urging them to "to be true witnesses to God's love" when responding
to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Noko also recognizes the continuing enriching experience of
developments such as the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of
Justification and the Anglican-Lutheran agreements in North America,
and urges Lutheran churches to deepen and extend their ecumenical
relationships toward the goal of the visible unity of the church.
The full text of Dr. Noko's New Year statement follows:
A Statement for the New Year (2002) by Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko
General Secretary, The Lutheran World Federation
As we cross the threshhold of another new year, we look back on a
year of change and uncertainty, in which violence and injustice have
been particularly evident. The year 2001 has been marked by the
intractable escalating violence in the Middle East; suicide bombings
there and elsewhere in the world; the attacks in the United States
and the subsequent military campaign in Afghanistan; a declining
global economy, and economic crisis in many countries; a deepening
global HIV/AIDS pandemic; inter-religious violence in Nigeria and
Indonesia; international controversy over responsibility and
accountability for past racist crimes; fragile steps towards
establishing democracy in places such as Kosovo; attempts to hold
political and military leaders accountable for war crimes and crimes
against humanity; violent anti-globalization protests; catastrophic
earthquakes and floods in India and elsewhere; struggles over land
and power in places such as Zimbabwe and Brazil; and a widening gap
between rich and poor throughout the world.
In the midst of these troubled times, the faithful worldwide have
continued to proclaim God's word and celebrate Christ's presence. We
have continued to witness the small daily miracles of hope and
compassion. In these small daily miracles, in the quiet movements of
the Spirit, as the faithful continue to minister, we glimpse the
coming reign of God in the midst of disorder and doubt.
Churches joined in the communion that is the Lutheran World
Federation share a desire for deeper relationships with other
Lutheran churches in order to strengthen one another in our common
call to proclaim and live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At the same
time, the Gospel message points us beyond ourselves. Our communion is
the basis for wider relationships of dialogue and understanding,
ecumenical and interfaith, in which we are challenged to reflect on
our own convictions and to examine our prejudices.
In the field of ecumenical engagement, the harvest from such
developments as the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of
Justification and the Anglican-Lutheran agreements in North America
continues to enrich the whole ecumenical movement. Lutheran churches
will be called in this new year to deepen and extend their ecumenical
relationships, towards the goal of the visible unity of the Church.
With the world shaken by the ferocity of hatreds fanned by religious
fundamentalism, interfaith dialogue has received a renewed focus and
priority. In pursuing interfaith dialogue and relationships, we must
ensure that we are motivated by the quest for mutual understanding
among God's peoples, rather than by narrow political objectives.
Lutheran churches have much to resolve in our own traditions
concerning relations with peoples of other faiths, as well as much to
contribute in the search for interfaith understanding.
In an era of globalization, in which communities are fragmented at
the same time as the globe becomes ever smaller, our communion is a
gift with a potential not yet fully realized for responding to the
challenges of our times. In the face of the obvious inequities and
injustices of economic globalization, we are empowered to respond as
a communion in which both 'winners' and 'losers' in the global
marketplace are brought together around the Lord's table.
In our reaction to the growing HIV/AIDS pandemic, we are reminded of
the fundamental calling of the Church - to compassion, consolation
and acceptance, rather than to judgmentalism, exclusion, and denial.
We are challenged to be true witnesses to God's love, in a time of
I give thanks to God for all the children, women and men around the
world who witness daily to the biblical vision of justice,
compassion, peace and equality. They are God's prophets among us. I
pray that the year 2002 will bring increasing clarity to this vision
and progress towards its fulfillment, and that we may all be
strengthened with the Spirit of God to respond in faith to the trials
- and to the joys - that this new year will bring.
(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran
tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund (Sweden), the LWF now has 133
member churches in 73 countries representing over 60.5 million of the
64.3 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
* * *
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