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"Worship Will be a Powerful Experience of Being One Body in Christ"

Assembly Host Church Bishop Talks about Local Preparations

Bishop Raymond Schultz

Excitement about hosting the LWF Tenth Assembly is building as members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) become aware of its potential impact on their lives. "Hosting the Tenth Assembly in Winnipeg gives us the opportunity to see ourselves against the background of worldwide Lutheranism," says the ELCIC National Bishop Raymond Schultz. "This will help us to understand who we are. With whom we belong is part of who we are as people in Christ."

Schultz sees worship during the event as a very positive way of lifting up the Assembly theme, "For the Healing of the World." He anticipates worship to be a powerful experience of being one body in Christ. "We are going to be reading the same scriptures, celebrating the same Eucharist, and praying the same prayers that Lutherans all over the world share in common. In a world that is so divided and fractured, this is very hopeful witness," he says.

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Multicultural Experience

Also, Schultz is enthusiastic about the diversity expected to be part of both the Assembly and its worship. "This event enhances the opportunity to experience music, stories, cultural habits, humor, and an introduction to other languages. Even what people will wear will be interesting."

Canada is often portrayed as a mosaic of people where multi-cultural experience and expression is valued and encouraged.

A multicultural dimension also presents some challenges for the ELCIC in providing worship resources. Although English is the primary language in the ELCIC, congregations worship in at least 14 different languages. "The Assembly is an opportunity to identify some fresh resources for meeting this challenge," according to Schultz.

Schultz says that the Assembly is already providing significant opportunities for many talented people in his church. "Some of the best artists of our LWF churches are contributing to this experience," he explains. "That means that the creative talent in our church can also find expression."

The Assembly provides a tremendous learning experience for ELCIC members, says Schultz, who begins to cite a number of other benefits for the church as the Assembly host.

On a personal note, he points out that he has been national bishop for "a very short time (elected in July 2001) and I came to my office with very limited international experience because, there had been few opportunities for me to gain that experience. So for me, and probably for a number of other church members, this is a kind of crash course."

Global Perspective

Schultz describes international relationships as "complex and sometimes hard to explain." Having a representative sample of the entire international family present is a quick way to view these complex issues in a single experience. "In one place at one time, we are going to be able to develop relationships with a large number of people who we donít normally have the opportunity to get to know."

At the Assembly, he expects to gain "global perspective on doing theology. As I learn how people read and interpret the confessions in their context, that helps to broaden my understanding of our theology."

Schultz is also enthusiastic about the impact that he expects the Assembly to have on the ELCICís vision of its mission. "This will be a tremendous call to mission for our church because it will globalize our vision of who we, as Godís people, are called to be."

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