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Participating in an LWF Assembly for the First Time

Bavarian Pastor Julia Helmke: "In Hong Kong Everything was New and Exciting"

Everything was new and exciting - so says Rev. Julia Helmke, describing her experiences as a youth delegate of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria at the 1997 LWF Ninth Assembly in Hong Kong, China. Currently a pastor in Munich, Germany, Julia, 33, will be one of the delegates representing her church at the Tenth Assembly in Winnipeg. She talked about her first LWF Assembly experience with Assembly Update editors.

In the run-up to the LWF Ninth Assembly, Rev. Julia Helmke was confronted with a host of important questions. How could she represent her church, what forms of active participation were foreseen? And, above all, what would be expected of her as a youth delegate?

Helmke began to gather experience during the preparatory youth conference, attended by around 120 young Lutherans from all over the world. "We ‘rehearsed’ the Assembly with committees and plenary meetings, we discussed the topics, we got acquainted—at every meal, at late-night sessions on the final resolution, at crisis sessions, dancing, in the interpersonal ups and downs," she recalls.

The worship services were wonderful points of rest and an indescribable source of strength during the Assembly. It was very inspiring to sing and pray together, meet at the Lord’s Table, and hear the Word of God in many languages and interpretations. She is still enthusiastic about this opportunity to meet with Lutherans from all over the world. The concept of worldwide communion began to become clearer.

Her motto for the forthcoming Assembly—To be open-minded and look forward to the event in a relaxed way. She advises newcomers in particular, not to be intimidated and shy of people who act as though they know everything and seem to treat the global gathering as only a matter of daily routine or an inner group for church policy-makers. An assembly, she notes, is too unique and valuable for every individual. And she encourages every participant to speak up and ask questions even in a language that they do not speak fluently.

Helmke is convinced that "attending an assembly is an honor, a gift, a mission and a time filled to the brim with God’s presence."

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