From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
General Secretary Noko Highlights Goals in Next Term of Office
"Frank Imhoff" <Frank_Imhoff@elca.org>
Fri, 03 Sep 2004 11:41:14 -0500
Council Members Should Play More Prominent Role in the LWF Regions
General Secretary Noko Highlights Goals in Next Term of Office
LWF Council Meeting, Geneva 1 * 7 September 2004
PRESS RELEASE NO. 08-2004
GENEVA, 3 September 2004 (LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary, Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko has stressed one of his goals in office, as strengthening the role of LWF Council members.
Council members as well as advisors ought to be more prominent in their respective regions by visiting member churches and being the LWF's visible face, Noko said at a press conference following his September 1 re-election for another seven-year term by the Council meeting at Chavannes-de-Bogis near Geneva.
He especially spoke of the need for vice-presidents to be more involved in building up a sense of communion, so that LWF members know that they "do not stand alone but together."
But he also wants member churches to take up seriously the responsibility for promoting human rights. "This preoccupation of the LWF can be followed up more effectively if individual churches raise questions about the situation of human rights in their own countries," he said. "Otherwise the international community cannot take it up with force. Individual countries need to make human rights their own responsibility." He stressed basic human rights issues including poverty reduction, of and the pursuit of peace as "our common responsibility."
The general secretary said the 2004 Council theme summarized today's global realities.
Advances in technology and communication were drawing people closer together. At the same time, economic and political changes in some regions of the world were widening the gap between rich and poor nations. "In my work I have to be sensitive to these issues," Noko said.
Responding to a question about the structure of the LWF and its adaptability to today's global contexts, Noko said the LWF needed to test the viability of its current set up in view of its responsiveness to myriad issues in a rapidly changing global and ecumenical environment. The general secretary said by the next Assembly, the LWF ought to discuss a possible restructuring of the organization, if it wanted to continue being a prophetic voice in a world that was, in the words of the Council theme, 'growing together, growing apart.' But, he added, that was an issue that would have to be taken up by the Council and Assembly, LWF's governing bodies.
"The LWF is enjoying a very high level of good relationships with other Christian communions and these relationships will continue to develop," Noko noted. He expressed the hope that in the near future the Lutheran and Reformed churches would reach a global communion agreement, including full altar and pulpit fellowship.
In view of recent and anticipated success stories in ecumenical relationships, Noko said that the LWF's structure must have the capacity to accommodate communion with other churches. "Are we agile enough on our feet to run the modern 'Olympic' race of rapid change that is taking place around us?" he asked. "We need to get ready for what lies before us in the years to come."
Is the Time Right to Discuss Family and Human Sexuality Issues in the LWF?
One of the discussion items on the September 1-7 Council Agenda is "Justice and Healing in Families * Marriage and Human Sexuality." It is expected that the Council would approve the appointment and mandate of a Task Force to deliberate on a process for handling this issue in the LWF. "The time is right," to open up this issue for discussion, Noko told the press conference. He underlined the subject on family and human sexuality as significantly important as both issues "are coming from two directions"*North and South. Africa brought the issue of families to the 1977 LWF Sixth Assembly in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, "but no one paid attention." The question of gay or lesbian relations is coming from the North and "at great speed," Noko explained. Whatsoever issues are preoccupying the LWF member churches in both the North and South, convergence must be sought, he said. If the LWF is a global communion, then "we have to discuss these issues, no matter how difficult they might seem. There is sufficient space for dialogue, so we do not have to grow apart."
Noko however called for patience and caution when dealing with family and human sexuality issues. "If we are not careful enough to listen to one another, this issue might easily become church dividing, but at the moment it is not a church-dividing issue." He remarked that at this stage, he did not know if the proposed taskforce would "provide us with a commonality of issues*which we do not have at this time."
However, Noko affirmed that the "LWF as a communion is meant to rise to meet these challenges. To be in communion is to stick together, despite the differences that we have," he concluded. (806 words)
There are around 100 church representatives including the 49-member Council attending this year's meeting at Chavannes-de-Bogis near Geneva. In addition there are 70 participants consisting of invited guests, LWF staff persons, stewards, interpreters, and journalists. The Council is the LWF's governing body between Assemblies, normally held every six years. The current Council was elected at the July 2003 LWF Tenth Assembly in Winnipeg, Canada, where it held its first meeting. The Council comprises the President, the Treasurer and ordained as well as lay persons drawn from the LWF member churches. The LWF currently has 136 member churches in 76 countries all over the world, representing 62.3 million of the estimated 66 million Lutherans worldwide.
During the Council meeting, the LWF Office for Communication Services can be reached by telephone at +41 22 960 8282, or at (mobile) +41 (0)76 396 2863.
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(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. It was founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden. The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas of common interest such as ecumenical and inter-faith 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 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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