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Colorful Opening of LWF Tenth Assembly

Canadian Bishop Schultz: Church People Have Been Judgmental about Sexuality

WINNIPEG, Canada, 21 July 2003 - A colorful ceremony marked the opening Eucharist of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Tenth Assembly, being hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

The Lutheran worship service, which was held at the St Boniface Cathedral (Roman Catholic), started with a colorful procession to the adjacent Red River, where some 380 delegates to the Assembly had gathered for a dedication ceremony.

The service was led by the ELCIC National Bishop Raymond Schultz. The cathedral's Most Rev. Emilius Goulet brought greetingsl. Participants included LWF President Bishop emeritus Dr Christian Krause, General Secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko, Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Walter Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Rev. Dr Setri Nyomi, General Secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

The Assembly runs from 21 to 31 July under the theme “For the Healing of the World,” and is attended by 820 participants from all over the world.

In a thought-provoking sermon, Schultz regretted that the Church has remained reserved on issues of sexuality even in the era of HIV/AIDS. “Church people have been more judgmental about sexuality than practically any other aspect of human behavior, yet it is in sexual seeking that humans act out their deepest longings for love, belonging and identity,” he said.

“To have such a powerful aspect of human experience tied to such a terrible disease is an enormous challenge, but also an enormous opportunity. Here is where unconditional acceptance of sufferers and compassion of the highest order can touch people where their self-esteem is most threatened, and their spiritual health is most eroded by the disapproval and censure of their society,” he added.

On the theme of the Assembly, Bishop Schultz remarked that the church had been called to bring compassion and mercy for the suffering, peace and reconciliation for the conflicted, justice and equity for the oppressed, shelter and hospitality for the homeless and hope for the hopeless.

The Tenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is taking place 21-31 July 2003 in Winnipeg, Canada, under the theme "For the Healing of the World." It is being hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

There are around 820 men, women and youth participants in the Tenth Assembly including 380 delegates from the 133 churches with full membership and three associate members. The Assembly is the highest decision-making body of the LWF, and meets normally every six years. Between Assemblies, the LWF is governed by its Council that meets annually, and by its Executive Committee.

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