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LWF Tenth Assembly Concludes in Festive Closing Worship

New LWF Council Members Presented

WINNIPEG, Canada, 2 August 2003 - Participants in the Tenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) celebrated the end of the meeting in a Closing Eucharist July 31 at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church here.

During the July 21-31 meeting of the highest decision-making body of the LWF, the 380 delegates attending the Assembly together with other participants discussed issues of common concern in church and society under the theme “For the Healing of the World.” The main highlights are contained in the Assembly Message in which the global LWF communion acknowledged the need for healing in a world in which devastation, suffering, violence and exclusion of the “other” are widespread.

One of the Assembly highlights was the July 26 election of a new LWF President, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson, who succeeds Bishop emeritus Dr Christian Krause, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brunswick, Germany.

During the closing worship service Hanson and the 48 other newly-elected Council members drawn from the different LWF regions were installed. They included 10 representatives each from Africa and Asia; eight from Central Western Europe; six from the Nordic Countries; five each from Central Eastern Europe and North America and four from the Latin American and Caribbean region. But, not all the new members of the LWF annual governing body were present as some were among the 50 Assembly participants who were denied visas to enter Canada.

In his sermon based on Revelation 21: 1-6, Rev. Tore Johnsen, Church of Norway, focused on the experiences of northern Europe’s indigenous Sami people. “I want to share with you some of our yearnings that reflect not only our wounds and pains but also our experiences of wholeness and healing.” For Indigenous Peoples, the picture of a city is still an ambiguous symbol. Often for them, a city means a hostile environment, oppression, alienation from family ties, from the native language and culture, and the destruction of the spiritual relation with creation.

It is very difficult for Indigenous Peoples to visualize a city as a symbol of healing. For Johnsen, the last two chapters of Revelation offer other images for identification. The river of living waters, the tree of life and the holy mountain of Zion – are portrayed as positive encounters.

For Johnsen, the new Jerusalem should not only be seen as merely a city but as a symbol of a new reconciled and healed humanity. “This city shall not be a city of destruction. It will be God’s city, a city of healing for the creation; a city whose name Jerusalem will be reconciled as a city of peace and healing wholeness.” This healing is brought to the world through Jesus Christ. “By receiving the broken body of Christ, we may be healed,” said Johnsen.

The closing worship included prayers and songs in different languages from all over the world. The Lord’s Prayer, like during other worship services at the Assembly, was said in as many languages as were spoken by the participants there. Johnsen chanted the dismissal in the Sami language.

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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