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PRESS RELEASE NO. 16
to Keynote Speech
Kigasung, Ms de Neyeloff React from Unique Perspectives
Canada, 24 July 2003 - The
keynote speaker at the Tenth Assembly of the Lutheran World
Federation (LWF) Bishop Dr Margot Kässmann said that she wished
she could rewrite her keynote speech in dialogue with her
The bishop of
the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover, Germany, expressed her
deep gratitude to key responders, Bishop Dr Wesley Kigasung,
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea, and Ms Virginia Ivañez de Neyeloff, delegate from the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in Venezuela, for their feedback to her keynote address delivered
here Wednesday. She also responded to three delegates who offered
additional remarks from the floor.
Kigasung reinforced Kässmann’s theme of the authority of
scripture – sola scriptura – and asked the audience to
"listen again" to the earliest accounts in Genesis of the
wounding of creation, when God asked of Adam, "Where are
you?" and of Cain, "Where is your brother?" The
bishop said that the human avoidance of responsibility didn’t
change God’s "good and holy intent" for creation. These
stories, he said echoing Kässmann’s words, challenge us to
respond to our brothers and sisters "with eyes wide open"
to the call to accountability implicit in God’s questions.
of hope, continued Kigasung, takes form in Jesus and the fulfillment
expressed in John 3:16. "Jesus is the hope for all who
experience pain and suffering." We must "listen
again" to the groaning of the silent majority.
concluded with a strong challenge to Christians living in Christian
countries, who have actually inflicted many of the world’s wounds.
"Listen," he said, "review (your actions) and respond
… for the healing of the world."
reacted to Kässmann’s address from the concrete, regional context
of Latin America, where men and especially women feel "the pain
of injustice, corruption and unnecessary death." She discussed
the historical perspective in which indigenous cultures, that once
had their own sophisticated links to nature, were then enslaved and
exploited by European conquerors and force-fed a new religion.
in families is not only the result of poverty, but has cultural and
religious roots," she said. "Half of society is steeped in
prejudice and inertia ... the other half will have to bring about
proposed concrete steps, such as promoting use of the LWF handbook,
"Churches Say 'No' to Violence Against Women," offering
gender training from an early age, strengthening models for a
"new" masculinity, ordaining women, and making possible
free education for the masses. She especially encouraged an
"ecumenical response to globalization" in which sectarian
points of view are avoided and cooperation encouraged in the face of
economic exploitation. She spoke about the enormous debt burden in
Latin American countries and said that is a matter of "sinning
or serving God" to establish the basis for promoting social
delegates also responded to Kässmann’s keynote speech from the
floor. Anders Wejryd from the Church of Sweden took issue with Kässmann’s assertion that healing is a central outcome of the
Great Commission, and not merely a secondary, diaconal task. The
"diaconal task," avowed Wejryd, is the primary response.
He also spoke to Kässmann’s point about the inability of poorer
nations to afford advanced treatment for HIV/AIDS and other diseases
and stressed the need for enlightened democratic control of medical
advances, especially in the field of genetic engineering.
Church of Norway representative of the Sami people, spoke of
"the European culture in dialogue with itself," and asked,
"Are we (European nations) aware of how powerful we are? Are we
willing to address our own cultural hegemony?" He challenged
participants to "Listen with the heart . . . and be prepared to
change our mindset."
Nilsen, also from the Church of Norway, said, "I am a practical
person" and "we must not only analyze and theologize"
but act in practical, "diaconal ways. . . We need a painful
Kässmann added to de Neyeloff’s proposals for action in Latin
America the need to address the issue of the rapidly growing
charismatic healing movement. She agreed that "Diakonia"
must be part of the "Esse" (to be, essence) of the church.
concern about genetic engineering, she added her own from the
perspective of German history. "I want to say, ‘hands off,’"
As for the
unwitting conviction of European cultural supremacy, she stated
"I cannot analyze someone else’s context! We in the north
have to call our own people to listen. We need to be silent."
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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