From the Worldwide Faith News archives

"Communion" of Lutheran World Federation Assembly Key

From News News <NEWS@ELCA.ORG>
Date Tue, 4 Feb 2003 16:54:56 -0600


January 31, 2003


     DENVER, Colo. (ELCA) -- Some 70 people attended the North American
Pre-Assembly Consultation of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) here
Jan. 23-26, and heard from many speakers that the upcoming LWF Tenth
Assembly is a significant event for enhancing the world "communion" of
Lutheran churches.
     The assembly will be held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, July 21-31. Held
every six years, the assembly is the LWF's chief decision-making body.
The 2003 theme, "For the Healing of the World," will be highlighted in
worship, celebrations and business matters, such as elections and
deliberations on resolutions and policy matters.  About 800 to 1,000
delegates, staff, advisors and visitors are expected to attend.
     The Denver Pre-Assembly Consultation brought together North
American delegates, staff and advisors representing the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
(ELCIC), Lituanian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Diaspora, Estonian
Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad and Latvian Evangelical Lutheran
Church Abroad (based in Germany), all of whom have congregations in
North America and are LWF members.
     While here, participants discussed key issues affecting North
America that will be brought to the assembly, nominated people for LWF
President and LWF Council positions, learned about assembly procedure,
and discussed their concerns and joys about the LWF.  They also heard
reports from youth and women's consultations involving North Americans.
     The assembly in Winnipeg means ELCIC members will experience what
it means to belong to a "very large and significant family in the
world," said the Rev. Raymond L. Schultz, ELCIC national bishop,
Winnipeg, in an interview.  It will also mean that Canadian Lutherans
will have an opportunity for "self-expression," he said.
     "As a communion of churches, we have an opportunity to worship
together, to study the Scriptures together and to talk with one
another," Schultz said.  "It's hard to predict what comes out of the
richness of that kind of experience."
     The job of preparing for the assembly is "enormous" for the ELCIC,
a Lutheran church with 200,654 members in 2002.  In addition to the
logistics of organizing an international assembly, Schultz said
participants will experience worship in Anglican and Roman Catholic
churches, because there isn't a Lutheran church in Winnipeg large enough
for the assembly.  However, worship will help participants
understand that "life in the ELCIC is very ecumenical," he added.
     The Pre-Assembly Consultation was a preparation for Winnipeg, said
the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, Chicago.
     "We immersed ourselves in the issues that we will be addressing in
Winnipeg," he said in an interview. "We have looked at the texts that
will shape our life together in Winnipeg.  We have worshiped here as we
will worship together in Winnipeg.  And, we have begun that important
process as North American Lutheran Christians of listening to global
voices to whom we belong by virtue of our baptism in this communion of
Lutheran churches."
     Hanson and 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," and Kathleen J. Magnus, LWF Regional Office
for North America, Chicago.  "It's an honor for us to be able to share
our space, our place, our ministries in hospitality with the rest of the
Lutheran communion."  The last time an LWF assembly took place in North
America was in 1957, in Minneapolis, she noted.  The most recent
assembly was in 1997 in Hong Kong.

     Staff with the LWF, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland,
emphasized three themes of recent LWF experience in remarks to the
consultation: the meaning of a Lutheran communion, a communion in
mission, and hospitality extended to each member.
     "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.
Karen L. Bloomquist, director for the LWF Department for Theology and
Studies.  As an example, she cited the 1999 signing of the Joint
Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) in Augsburg,
Germany, by representatives of the LWF and The Vatican.  It signaled
agreement on a key issue of disagreement between Martin Luther and the
Catholic Church that led to the Protestant Reformation.  North Americans
were leaders in the effort that led to the JDDJ, she said.
     The LWF is a "communion" of churches of the Lutheran tradition,
which "means more than a free association of autonomous churches,"
Bloomquist said.  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.
     The Rev. Peri Rasolondraibe, director for the LWF Department for
Mission and Development, said mission "is clear and dominant" throughout
the worldwide Lutheran communion.  "It (LWF) is a communion in mission,"
he said.  "Through mission the communion is strengthened."
     Rasolondraibe 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.
      Rasolondraibe said the theme of the assembly -- For the Healing of
World -- "is both a challenge and a promise" for the churches of the
     The assembly provides an opportunity for Lutherans to extend
hospitality to each other, said the Rev. Robert H. Granke, director for
the LWF Department for World Service. Hospitality is about extending a
welcome, treating others with respect and affirming each member, he
      To facilitate communication among the international delegates,
participants will be able to hear simultaneous translations of plenary
sessions in English, French, German and Spanish, said the Rev. Arthur E.
Leichnitz, director of the LWF Tenth Assembly, Geneva.	To mark the
significance of the assembly, the Canadian government plans to issue a
commemorative stamp with the LWF theme on it, he said.
     Some 61.7 million of the world's 65.4 million Lutherans are
members of LWF churches.  The LWF has 136 member churches in 76
countries.  Invitations to participate in the assembly have been
extended to significant Lutheran church bodies that are not LWF members,
Leichnitz added.
-- -- --
     Information about the LWF Tenth Assembly can be found at on the Web.

     For a video news release on the LWF Consultation, visit
on the ELCA Web site.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG

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