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PRESS RELEASE NO. 27
Greetings to LWF Tenth Assembly Underline Continued Cooperation
"Open to Each
Other and Toward a Richer Experience of Life in Christ"
WINNIPEG, Canada, 28 July
Confessional Christian families, regional and international church
organizations brought goodwill messages to the Lutheran World
Federation (LWF) Tenth Assembly, and affirmed their commitment to
The Rev. Dr Konrad
Raiser, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC),
said three assemblies in 2003 Ė of the LWF, Conference of European
Churches and All Africa Conference of Churches - had chosen themes
focusing on healing, reconciliation and re-building. At a time of
brokenness in the world, he said, churches were beginning to
understand that it is their missionary vocation to be healing and
reconciling communities in Christ. "Caring for life, healing
and reconciliation are central to what it means to be church,"
Raiser said in a message read by Rev. Hector Mendez, a member of the WCC
Central Committee and a pastor of the First Presbyterian Reformed
Church of Havana, Cuba. He invited ecumenical partner organizations
"to seek ways to strengthen the coherence of the ecumenical
movement for the sake of common mission."
The Rev. Dr Setri Nyomi,
General Secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC),
paid tribute to the work of the Lutheran-Reformed Working Group.
In anticipation for a proposed joint meeting between the WARC
Executive Committee and LWF Council, and a joint Assembly, he
expressed the hope that the LWF Tenth Assembly would identify some
of the steps Lutheran and Reformed churches could take together
"as Godís agents for healing." He was accompanied by Dr
Paul Fries, leader of the Reformed Church in America.
A message from the Anglican
Communion was delivered by its Secretary General, Rev. Canon
John L. Peterson, who called Lutherans and Anglicans to work
together for the healing of the world. "It is scandal that we
are not working more closely together in Africa and in other parts
of our global communion on HIV/AIDS," he said. He hoped for
"a day when there may be only One United Communion between our
two venerable families." Peterson referred to the report of the
Anglican-Lutheran International Working Group "Growth in
Communion," to show that the two families were working closely
and that "Anglicans and Lutherans had made covenantal
commitments to share a common life and mission, and in some places
had been able to declare themselves in full communion."
In a message read by
former United Church of Canada (UCC) Moderator Rev. Dr Stan
McKay, UCC Moderator Rt Rev. Dr Marion Pardy and Acting General
Secretary Rev. Dr Jim Sinclair commended the LWF for
"proclaiming unity as Godís gift and for recognizing that Godís
healing is needed for the divisions in our Church and in the
brokenness in our world." They stated the UCCís solidarity
with the LWF "as we seek to profess our contemporary faith in
ways that honor Godís peace, love and justice for all people and
for the whole creation."
The President of the World
Methodist Council (WMC), His Eminence Sunday C. Mbang, praised
the LWF for signing the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of
Justification with the Roman Catholic Church in October 1999. He
expressed the hope that the WMC will "append its signature to
it" following its assembly in Seoul, Korea, in 2006 with the
theme "God in Christ Reconciling." He pledged the WMCís
willingness "to join with others in bringing Godís message of
healing to a broken world."
The Director of the
Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, Rev. David Wiebe,
brought greetings from Larry Miller, Executive Director of the Mennonite
World Conference. He thanked the LWF for its desire to study
with Mennonites the question of the condemnations of the Anabaptists
in the Augsburg Confession, "a study in which the Mennonites
are happy to engage in the name of better understanding within the
body of Christ worldwide."
Fr Andrew Jarmus of the Ukrainian
Orthodox Church in Canada brought greetings from His All
Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople,
who praised the Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission for affirming
that humankind was made in the image of God "to grow and to
realize in ever increasing ways the divine image." He said the
task of "equipping the saints" for the work of ministry
and transformation was possible "only when people were
liberated from the tyranny of death and sin in all its forms."
importance of ecumenical cooperation, the Primate of the Anglican
Church of Canada, Archbishop Michael Peers, said his church and
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada are in "full
communion" and both churches have their doors "open to
each other and toward a richer experience of life in Christ."
Anglicans "stand in Eucharistic fellowship with the ELCIC,"
Peers regretted that the
government of Canada had denied visas to some delegates who were
expected to participate in the LWF Tenth Assembly. He said,
"The churches are with you, the government has failed you. And
Canadians here know that it has failed us, and I give you a
commitment that our challenge to the government will be strong and
The Rev. Ane Hjerrild,
representing the Leuenberg Church Fellowship (LCF) underscored the need for Christian partners to
work together to overcome differences in the church. She however
appreciated the way the Assembly had brought together churches from
various regions to dialogue on different topical issues. "We in
Europe have again during this assembly learnt how the churches in
Asia, Latin America and Africa, are overcoming confessional barriers
and differences by working together in mission and dialogue Ė in
serving the people and struggling for justice," she noted. The
LCF is an alliance of 103 European Lutheran, Reformed, United,
Methodist and Hussite churches as well as the related
pre-Reformation churches, the Waldensians and Czech Brethrens,
including also five South American churches emanating from German
On behalf Dr Jan Paulsen,
president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Dr. John Graz,
Director of the Department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty
who is also secretary general of the Conference of Secretaries of
Christian World Communions, declared Martin Luther as "a great
figure" to Adventists. He said conversations between the two
communions "continue to produce positive effects" and
"encouragement for thoseÖ who want to have not only good
relations with other Christians, but who believe that we are all
Jesusí disciples and should work together every time." He
called on Lutherans and Adventists to cooperate in the "battle
against HIV/AIDS" and in humanitarian action, education and
religious freedom. "These are areas where Adventists and
Lutherans may develop strong partnerships," he added.
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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