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Lutherans in Silent Protest of Visa Denials

Hundreds Process to The Forks to Show Solidarity with Absentees

WINNIPEG, Canada, 29 July 2003 - In silent and solemn procession delegates and visitors to the Tenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) walked from the Winnipeg Convention Centre through the streets of Winnipeg to the Oodeena to protest the Canadian government’s refusal to grant visas to 53 of their fellow delegates from developing nations. The march was organized by the Assembly host-church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

The Oodeena is situated next to Johnston Terminal, the location of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada offices.

The procession which had a police escort was led by ELCIC National Bishop Raymond Schultz, LWF President Bishop em. Dr Christian Krause, LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko. Others included the ELCIC's five synod bishops and the Anglican bishop of Rupertsland diocese which includes Winnipeg. 

A single drumbeat greeted the marchers’ arrival in the amphitheater. A fragrant wood fire and torches lit the ancient Ojibway meeting ground, as a liturgy of prayer and chant were punctuated by delegates’ personal stories of discrimination and injustice. From Tanzania, Latin America and Greenland, Indigenous Peoples shared their pain and the church’s role in their presence here today. A round in which worshippers chanted the single word "Shalom" in four parts seemed to give voice to the purpose of the event: to show solidarity with brothers and sisters who were not able to be present and to offer them a symbol of hope for peace and justice.

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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