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Day 6 - Saturday 26 July


The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), was elected president of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), on Saturday, July 26. He was elected on the first round of a secret-ballot vote, receiving a majority of 267 votes to 111 votes for the other candidate, the Rev. Susan C. Johnson, vice-president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). Out of a total of 379 registered delegates at the Assembly, 378 cast valid ballots.


Upon his election, Hanson accepted the office "with a great spirit of humility." … The task for me," he declared, "is to listen, to lead by learning and accompanying you." He encouraged the representatives of LWF member churches to "challenge, encourage, correct me . . . I lead not apart but with you." He concluded that he hopes he never forgets his 22 years as a parish pastor where the centerpiece of ministry is Word and Sacrament, and so it should continue to be for the LWF communion.

Also on Saturday, the forty-eight nominees representing the seven LWF regions were elected to the Council which is responsible for the business of the Federation between Assemblies. The Council elects and directs the work of the general secretary, decides the structure of the LWF secretariat, sets the budget of the Federation and presents an annual report to the member churches.

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The LWF has called upon the United Nations to send a stabilization force to Liberia to prevent government forces and rebels from attacking each other, and to protect civilians.

In an Assembly resolution, the LWF "urges the United Nations Security Council to immediately mandate the deployment of a multilateral stabilization force to separate the warring sides, to protect civilians, and to disarm and demobilize all fighting forces". 

The resolution came after a heart-rending briefing on the current situation in Liberia by Bishop Sumoward Harris and Comfort Freeman, delegates of the Lutheran Church in Liberia.

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“Heal our Divisions” was the theme of Saturday’s Bible study taken from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 2:13 - 22 and presented by the churches of the Central and Eastern European Region of the LWF. In a moving portrayal of humanity’s deep divisions, they used the metaphor of their own past divisions before the collapse of communist rule. A video showed eastern European churches, pockmarked by weapons’ fire and abandoned. 

Then, stacking up cardboard boxes to represent walls of division—so familiar to citizens of the region—the members read out a list of opposites which represent current divisions: east and west, rich and poor, victim and perpetrator, Lutheran and non-Lutheran. The message of reconciliation from Ephesians was read and interpreted as the “new law of love” that removes barriers. Then, in contrast to the opening video footage showing churches in a state of decay, a video was shown of Christians in Eastern Europe receiving communion in churches that are full. In a dramatic conclusion, the delegates from the Central and Eastern European churches reassembled their cardboard boxes, this time showing the now familiar Assembly logo which graphically portrays the theme, “For the Healing of the World.”  


Under the theme “For the Healing of the Earth,” an Aboriginal healing liturgy took place on Saturday evening at Holy Trinity Anglican Church. Sweet grass, sage, cedar and tobacco were burnt for the traditional cleansing ceremony. The liturgy accommodated both traditional and modern elements.




People meeting people. The richness of the experience of the Tenth Assembly is heightened through the relationships that develop during these ten days. Delegates, representatives, observers, ecumenical guests—there are many different categories of participants. Some speak; some vote; some do both. Advisors, guests, and staff offer advice and support. Interpreters and journalists provide invaluable service. During plenary sessions, through worship, and more informally during breaks, the 820 participants share ideas and form friendships. Communion is strengthened.


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