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‘Sister’ Lutheran Bodies Call for Continued Dialogue to Overcome Differences

A Commitment to Work Together

WINNIPEG, Canada, 28 July 2003 – Messages to the LWF Tenth Assembly from "sister" Lutheran churches and organizations called for continued dialogue to remove differences and to work together in their response to human suffering.

The Executive Secretary of the International Lutheran Council (ILC), Rev. Dr Samuel H. Nafzger, said the LWF and ILC had "much in common," including the name and their Lutheran confessions. But there were differences in their "understanding of the authority of Scripture." For these reasons, he said, it is "critical to keep the lines of communication open and make every effort to resolve those issues which impede the accomplishment of the work Christ has given to bring healing to the broken world."

A first meeting between representatives of the LWF and ILC took place 30 July-1 August 2002 in Geneva. The next talks will be held in Helsinki, Finland, in November 2003.

A message from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) expressed regret that divisions and schisms "continue to impede our witness to this Gospel message we are committed to bring to the world." LCMS President Rev. Dr Gerald B. Kieschnick pledged his church’s commitment "to work together with our brothers and sisters in Christ to resolve these differences."

He said God calls the Church to respond to the varied and widespread needs for healing, "ranging from illness and disease to human suffering and violence to hunger and poverty." Through the common organization, the Lutheran World Relief, he hoped God will "cause us to see the pain and fear in the eyes of those whom we serve." There is no better healing than "that the lives of many are transformed through Christ’s love," he added.

The Rev. Ralph Mayan President of the Lutheran Church - Canada, stressed the need for open communication between member churches. "It is important for us as it is for you to keep the lines of communication open, to be able to discuss those issues that separate us, and seek to find resolutions to anything that impedes the free course of the proclamation of the Gospel in our world," he said.

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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