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PRESS RELEASE NO. 38
Concludes with Message of Healing for the World
Gathering Focuses on Issues of Globalization, Human Sexuality, Violence and
WINNIPEG, Canada, 31 July
2003 - The Tenth
Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) concluded with one
"Message" in many parts, all relating to the gathering’s
theme "For the Healing of the World."
The ten-day meeting, which
included over 800 participants and visitors from more than 70 countries, got
off to a rocky start when more than 50 delegates from developing
nations were denied visas by the Canadian government. A high point
was a silent march from the Winnipeg Convention Centre, the Assembly
venue, culminating in a worship service at The Forks amphitheater
adjacent to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada offices.
Delegates worked into the
evening hours on the final full day of the Assembly to approve a
document that summarizes the major areas of concern and provides
direction for the LWF’s activities for the next six years -- until
the next Assembly.
acknowledges a "world in need of healing" and identifies
areas of special concern for member churches in the worldwide
communion of nearly 62 million Lutherans.
Among other actions called
for in the Assembly’s "Message:"
- Further exploration of
what it means to be Lutherans "in communion,"
including the issues of the participation of Lutheran
denominations not currently LWF members; cross-cultural
communication among Lutherans of diverse backgrounds; promotion
of the full inclusion of women and youth in all aspects of the
church’s life, with respect for differing cultural
understandings of ministry. The Message of concern for healing
within the church extends beyond Lutheran boundaries to
encourage ecumenical activity and dialogue with many other
churches, with special attention to ecumenical pursuits in
Africa, Asia, Central Eastern Europe and Latin
- The Message commits LWF
members to remove barriers that exclude people from
"participating fully in the life that God envisions for
all." These barriers include gender, race, ethnicity,
class, nationality, caste, sexual orientation, age and
physical/mental condition. The Assembly also committed itself to
supporting basic human rights for indigenous peoples. In
reference to the visa issue, the Assembly singled out the Dalit
people of India, who were among those denied entry to Canada.
- The Message pledges
members to enrich the church’s healing ministries by
addressing HIV/AIDS, violence and poverty. "Diakonia,"
or the servant ministries of the church, are put forth as a
fundamental dimension of the church’s life and part of its
holistic healing ministry.
- Justice and healing in
families is addressed in the Assembly Message and provoked
lively discussion on the floor of the Assembly on the language
around issues of human sexuality and the definition of
"family." The Message encourages respectful dialogue
on marriage, family and human sexuality "in a manner
appropriate to the needs of each member church." It also
addresses the experience of "spiritual poverty" within
families and encourages resources for addressing these needs.
- The Message pledges to
participate fully in the ecumenical "Decade to Overcome
Violence" in families, against women and against children,
to confront increasing militarism and the proliferation of
weapons, advocate against expressions of violence in the media
and actively confront expressions of religious fundamentalism in
- The Assembly took a
strong position on transforming economic globalization in
recognition of the churches’ prophetic role in promoting
justice and human rights. In particular, the Message addresses
the growing gap between rich and poor, the marginalization of
Indigenous Peoples, and the international debt that has become
an instrument of domination, especially in poor nations. The
Message calls for the "development of an economy that
serves all of life."
- "The wounded
creation is in desperate need of healing" states the
Message. It challenges Lutheran Christians to be "God’s
creating, restoring, sustaining hands on earth" and
challenges practices that turn the gifts of God’s creation
into commodities for profit, especially when that activity
impacts the poor. It encourages members to work against climate
change and the consumption of fossil fuels, and to educate
member communities on the theology of creation.
The Message concludes in
part, "The world in which we live still suffers under the
brokenness caused by sin; and people are victims of injustice and
the abuse of power. But in the midst of all suffering and injustice,
God is continuously at work, healing our world."
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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