From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Rebuilding Community at the Grassroots

From "Frank Imhoff" <>
Date Fri, 07 Jun 2002 07:57:23 -0500

LWF Study Program on Spirituality

GENEVA, 7 June 2002 (LWI) - "See How They Love One Another:
Rebuilding Community at the Base," is a compilation of essays
written by Lutherans from different parts of the world, inviting
local congregations to rediscover some forgotten perspectives of
Christian living.

The book is one of the publications related to the Lutheran World
Federation (LWF) study program on "Spiritual Life in Community,"
that was begun in 2000 running up to the end of 2002. The process
emanated from the finding that the corporate life of the church is
at stake in many contemporary contexts in which religion is
privatized and individualized. The study focuses on spiritual life
as an embodiment of the church's life. Since the apostolic times
this way of life has been based on unifying experiences, such as
teaching, breaking bread, sharing goods and praying together.

Produced by the office for Worship and Congregational Life of the
LWF Department for Theology and Studies, the book comprises 11
articles by pastors, laypeople, teachers, ecumenical officers and
community members based on presentations given at the LWF
consultation on spirituality in October 2001 in Seattle, USA.

Through the publication Lutheran churches and their congregations
are invited to search for different ways to rebuild community at
the base; rediscover the Trinitarian foundation of worship and its
diaconal, corporate and symbolic dimensions as well as practices
of the one church, such as meditative reading of Scripture (lectio
divina) and the adult catechumenate. They are also urged to find
anew the depth of Luther's understanding of prayer as a good work
and sacrifice; and to reflect on different methods for spiritual
nurturing and guidance that would be appropriate in their own

In the study, the Christian way of life has been defined according
to the classical Lutheran understanding--a way of life that gives
a profound unity to love, knowledge and prayer. Even if the
manifestations of Christian life are rich and varied, they have
something in common: they ultimately flow from the love of the
Triune God.

The study emphasizes that God's ultimate being as love presupposes
the integration of theological work and spiritual quest. In the
program the Christian way of life has been studied by the
reintegration of theological reflection and religious experience.
The emphasis has been on the living and participatory knowledge of
God in prayer and acts of love.

The engagement with local churches and communities has been a
central part of the study. The study team, consisting of nine
persons representing different regions, visited Lutheran
congregations and communities in Germany, Brazil, USA, India and
Tanzania, 2001-2002. The outcome of these visits focusing on the
norms of common life of Lutheran congregations, methods for
meditating on Scripture in community and corporate nature of
Sunday worship, will be published in three booklets towards the
end of 2002.

One of the guiding principles of this process has been that "small
is powerful, small is crucial, small is where it's at." The study
as a whole seeks to help churches at all levels to focus on and
work for the basic Christian community which takes root in primary
relationships. It is believed that this is the only way in which
the church can still, like in the first Christian centuries, be
identified as the community of those who love one another.

For further information on the spirituality study, please contact
Rev. Dr. Paeivi Jussila, LWF study secretary for worship and
congregational life.

(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,

[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 acknowledgment.]

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