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PRESS RELEASE NO. 31
Make a Difference at LWF Tenth Assembly
of Unpaid Helpers Make Global Lutheran Gathering a Success
WINNIPEG, Canada, 30 July
2003 - It is a
trip halfway around the world from Queensland, Australia to
Winnipeg, Manitoba. But thatís the journey Paul Smith made to be a
volunteer at the Tenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).
Smithís wife Heidi is
one of two Lutheran Church of Australia representatives attending
the July 21-31 Assembly. Smith, although an ordained Lutheran
pastor, is not one of the 380 delegates from churches with full
membership in the LWF. His church is an associate member of the
Federation. But he came along anyway and promptly applied to
volunteer at the Assembly.
Standing 188 centimeters
tall and weighing 120 kilograms, Smith was assigned to Ė what
else? Ė security - at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, where the
Assembly is being held. And he is enjoying every minute of it.
"Canadians are doubly
friendly to Australians," he remarked.
Smith is one of
volunteers without whom the LWF Assembly could not function.
Volunteers, wearing the bright yellow bibs which identify them, have
been everywhere Ė transporting people to and from the airport,
billeting guests, managing traffic, assisting with translation, and
performing dozens of other tasks to make the LWF gathering a
success. There are 825 participants in the Assembly including 380
delegates from LWF member churches.
Local organizers had
originally hoped for 500 volunteers.
The LWF staff is astounded
at the outpouring of service from this small army of helpers working
for free. "Theyíre just amazed at the volunteer
program," said volunteer coordinator Ron Heimbecker.
The majority of volunteers
are from Lutheran congregations in and around Winnipeg. One of them
is Harold Granke of Grace Lutheran Church. He has been helping to
staff the Canadian Lutheran World Relief booth, which is doing a
brisk business selling hand-made wooden and textile articles
manufactured by disadvantaged people overseas.
"Anything I can do to
help with the church, I will," said Granke. "Itís where
my heart is."
Granke said some
volunteers are so keen that they are doing double shifts, even
though they are only supposed to be working part-time. "Itís
Remarkable too, is the
extent to which volunteers are willing to make a special effort. He
said a group of 22 volunteers arrived from Swift Current,
Saskatchewan July 28 to help transport delegatesí luggage to the
airport when the Assembly ends July 31. The reason they deliberately
came late is that they knew the early volunteers would be tired and
wanted to relieve them, said Heimbecker.
Not all the volunteers are
Canadians. About 20 percent are Americans who drove or flew up to
Winnipeg to help out after learning about the Assembly through the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Web site.
Nor are they all
Lutherans. Heimbecker said volunteers from Winnipegís Anglican
community have also done yeoman service. Canadaís Lutherans and
Anglicans today share full communion, following a joint declaration
signed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and Anglican
Church of Canada. This makes the Assembly a truly ecumenical event,
according to local church officials.
Although the Assembly ends
tomorrow, volunteers have forged links with each other that will
last a long time, Smith predicted.
"Iíve met Canadian
Lutherans and international Lutherans who I now know by first names.
And I trust that God will bless us with the opportunity of meeting
again as first-name friends," he said.
reflection as a volunteer."
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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