ELCA NEWS SERVICE
July 15, 2010
Lutherans to Meet in Germany July 20-27 for LWF Eleventh Assembly
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- In about a week's time, Lutherans from around the world will meet in Stuttgart, Germany, for the Eleventh Assembly of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF). "Give Us Today Our Daily Bread" is the theme of the July 20-27 event hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wuerttemberg, according to a Lutheran World Information (LWI) news release.
The LWF comprises 140 member churches in 79 countries -- including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) -- representing more than 70 million Christians. An estimated 1,000 people, including 418 delegates from the member churches will participate in the assembly. Occurring normally every six years, the assembly is the LWF's highest decision-making body.
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop and LWF president, will preside at the assembly. Hanson was elected president in 2003. His successor will be elected by assembly delegates. He will report to the assembly, as will the Rev. Ishmael Noko, LWF general secretary, and Peter Stoll, LWF treasurer.
Dr. Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Communion, will deliver the keynote address to the assembly on July 22.
Asking for forgiveness from Mennonites
A significant anticipated action of the assembly will be adoption of an LWF statement asking for forgiveness from Mennonites for the persecution of Anabaptists by Lutherans in the 16th century, and for the legacy of such condemnations to the present day, the release said. This is planned for a plenary session July 22, which will include participation of an international delegation from the Mennonite World Conference, led by the organization's president, the Rev. Danisa Ndlovu of Zimbabwe, LWI reported. Mennonites are expected to respond with the gift of an old basin used in the characteristic Anabaptist practice of foot-washing. A service of repentance will follow.
The Assembly agenda includes three public hearings regarding climate change and food security, illegitimate debt, and HIV and AIDS, the release said.
Worship will be an important feature of the LWF Assembly. The opening and closing Eucharist services will take place in Stuttgart's Stiftskirche. Each day begins with Bible study and Eucharist, and plenary sessions break and conclude with evening or mid-day prayers. Deliberation on the meeting's content occurs in "village groups," where participants shape proposed commitments and directions for assembly consideration, LWI said.
In addition to election of a new president, the assembly will elect members of the LWF Council, the governing body which guides the organization's work between assemblies. At its conclusion the assembly is expected to issue a final message establishing priority areas for federation programmatic work, the release said.
Preparations smooth, says general secretary
Speaking to LWI about assembly preparations thus far, Noko praised the local assembly planners, the Wuerttemberg church, the LWF German National Committee and other collaborating churches for the efforts that have gone into ensuring a smooth assembly and hospitality in Stuttgart.
"I am particularly grateful to the host church and German authorities for facilitating entry visas for delegates and other participants from various countries around the world who require such travel documents," he said. A week before the assembly, one request for a visa that would permit a young person from Botswana to attend had been denied. Ten other visa requests, some of them initially rejected, were still being processed.
The host country is significant for Lutherans, remarked Noko. "For Lutherans, going to Germany is not just going to another country. This is the epicenter of the 16th century Reformation," he said. He commended local Lutheran churches for coordinating a pre-assembly visitation program that will provide an opportunity for participants to learn about the context of mission in the host region, especially as it relates to the assembly theme.
Information about the Lutheran World Federation is at http://www.lutheranworld.org on the Web.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org