From the Worldwide Faith News archives

North Americans Get Ready for LWF Tenth Assembly

From "Frank Imhoff" <>
Date Fri, 31 Jan 2003 14:58:11 -0600

Communion, Mission, Hospitality, Key Themes for Winnipeg

DENVER, Colorado, United States of America/GENEVA, 31 January 2003
(LWI) - The Assembly will enable Evangelical Lutheran Church in
Canada (ELCIC) members to experience what it means to belong to a
"very large and significant family in the world," ELCIC National
Bishop Rev. Raymond L. Schultz said at the North American
Pre-Assembly Consultation. The leader of the Assembly host church
said in an interview: "It also means Canadian Lutherans will have
an opportunity for "self-expression," and "as a communion of
churches, we [will] have an opportunity to worship together, study
the Scriptures together and to talk with one another. It's hard to
predict what comes out of the richness of that kind of

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) North American Pre-Assembly
Consultation in Denver, January 23-26, was attended by some 70
people. The consultation brought together North American
delegates, staff and advisers representing the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), ELCIC, Lithuanian Evangelical
Lutheran Church in Diaspora, Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church
Abroad and Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad (based in
Germany), all of which have congregations in North America, and
are LWF members.

Participants discussed key issues affecting North America that
will be brought to the Assembly, made nominations for LWF
President and LWF Council positions, and learned about Assembly
procedure. They also heard reports from the Women's Pre-Assembly
Consultation held in Montreux, Switzerland last November, and the
North American Youth Consultation held in Denver January 18-22.

For the ELCIC with a membership of 188,654, preparing for and
organizing the logistics of an international Assembly is an
"enormous" task, Schultz said. Participants will experience
worship in Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, because there is
no Lutheran church in Winnipeg large enough, he said. However, the
worship will help participants understand that "life in the ELCIC
is very ecumenical," he added.

ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson and Bishop Schultz chaired
much of the consultation program. "It's a privilege and an honor
and a lot of work to host the LWF Assembly on our continent," said
Kathy J. Magnus, LWF Regional Expression Officer for North
America, based in Chicago, Illinois. The last time an LWF Assembly
took place in North America was in 1957, in Minneapolis,
Minnesota, USA.

At the consultation, three themes of recent LWF experience were
emphasized: the meaning of a Lutheran communion, a communion in
mission, and hospitality.

"The coming together of Lutherans on this continent has brought
attention to what it means to be in unity as the church," said the
Rev. Dr Karen L. Bloomquist, director of the LWF Department for
Theology and Studies. She cited the 1999 signing of the Joint
Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) in Augsburg,
Germany, by representatives of the LWF and Vatican. North
Americans were leaders in the effort that led to the JDDJ, she

The LWF is a "communion" of churches in the Lutheran tradition,
which "means more than a free association of autonomous churches,"
Bloomquist continued. It means the churches share a fellowship
with a common theological understanding, she said. The LWF
Assembly is "a pivotal event" of what it means to be a communion,
Bloomquist added.

Rev. Dr Peri Rasolondraibe, director of the LWF Department for
Mission and Development, said mission "is clear and dominant"
throughout the worldwide Lutheran communion. "It [the LWF] is a
communion in mission," he said. "Through mission the communion is
strengthened." He cited the companion synod programs of both the
ELCA and ELCIC as examples of how North American Lutherans have
created a "network" of relationships throughout the world. The
programs provide formal links between synods of the North American
churches with churches in various parts of the world, leading to
sharing of resources, exchange visits of members and leaders, and
mutual support, especially in times of crisis. "Sharing and giving
hope is part of being a communion in mission," he said. The
Assembly theme "For the Healing of the World" is "both a challenge
and a promise" for the churches of the communion.

The Assembly provides an opportunity for Lutherans to extend
hospitality to each other, said Robert H. Granke, director of the
LWF Department for World Service. Hospitality is about extending a
welcome, treating others with respect and affirming each member,
he said.

The Assembly will be held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, July
21-31. Normally held every six years, the Assembly is the
federation's chief decision-making body. The theme, "For the
Healing of the World," will be highlighted in worship,
celebrations and business matters, including elections and
deliberations on resolutions and policy matters. About 1,000
delegates, staff, advisers and visitors are expected to attend.

Information about the LWF Tenth Assembly can be found at
the LWF Assembly Web site.

(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the
Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund (Sweden), the LWF now
has 136 member churches in 76 countries representing over 61.7
million of the 65.4 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 LWF's information
service.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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