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PRESS RELEASE NO. 21
LWF Tenth Assembly:
Small Packages, Great Gifts
Groups a Central Feature of the Assembly
WINNIPEG, Canada, 26 July
2003 – Great
gifts come in small packages, as the adage goes, and the Village
Groups at the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Tenth Assembly prove
this. The 821 participants have been working in groups to discuss
the implications of the Assembly theme For the Healing of the
World in ten sub-themes.
The sub-themes are: God’s
Healing Gift of Justification; God’s Healing Gift of Communion;
Healing Divisions within the One Church; The Mission of the Church
in Multi-faith Contexts; Removing Barriers that Exclude; The Church’s
Ministry of Healing; Justice and Healing in Families; Overcoming
Violence; Transforming Economic Globalization, and Healing Creation.
The Village Groups have
been termed "a central feature" of the Assembly, because
they are the settings where Bible study discussions occur and where
"important implications of the Assembly theme" are
pursued. Discussions in the village groups will generate ideas which
will be presented in the final Assembly Message to guide the LWF for
the next six years.
Assembly delegates were
asked to indicate their choice of the Village Groups before they
traveled to Winnipeg.
Since the October 1999
signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification between the LWF and
Roman Catholic Church, renewed ecumenical
attention has been focused on the doctrine of justification. The
village group explored relationship between justification, healing
and ‘new creation’. Salvation as forgiveness of sin, liberation
from bondage and spiritual healing are needed today.
Another group studied God’s
healing gift of communion as manifested in the healing power of
prayer and the Eucharist, which transform people into a communion of
love. Healing is needed of "differences and wounds"
related to ethnic or cultural identities, and disparities in size
and finances. The group discussed how communication can support and
build up the communion.
Divisions within the One
Church of Christ continue to hinder its witness to the world.
However, progress has been made in ecumenical relations in recent
years. The group focused on the meaning and power of the Sacraments
as means to keeping the church united.
Every church member and
congregation is called to participate in the mission of the church
in multi-faith contexts through dialogue and living and working
together. The key aspect of this mission is reconciliation among
people of different faiths. The group explored how this could be
In churches and societies,
barriers of discrimination continue to exclude people with physical
or mental disabilities. Those affected by HIV/AIDS face additional
kinds of discrimination. Others are discriminated on the grounds of
race, ethnicity, caste, age or gender. The group discussed the
impact of historical wounds of exclusion on human relationships.
Bodily and spiritual
healing has long been considered part of the church’s pastoral and
diaconal calling. The ministry of healing is grounded in the Word,
sacraments and prayer. While some church groups exercise healing
through prayer and exorcism, others do so mainly through diaconal
ministries. This is the focus of another group.
Justice and healing
address family, gender and sexuality issues as well. The group
concentrated on challenges of violence in families, societies and
between communities. Conflicts within and between countries
devastate land and peoples. How can memories be healed and cycles of
violence overcome? How can LWF member churches advocate with others,
particularly through the ‘Decade to Overcome Violence,’ for the
sake of justice, peace and reconciliation?
Economic globalization was
the focus of another group. While globalization has a bright side,
the negative side includes fragmented communities and overexploited
Human beings have spoiled
or destroyed much of God’s good creation, concluded yet another
group, and asked: "How can creation be restored, and our
relationships with the rest of nature healed?"
Assembly planners included
village groups to enable every delegate to actively participate in
the process of shaping the LWF agenda for the future, not only to
vote in the plenary sessions.
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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