WINDHOEK, Namibia, 15 May 2017 – The Twelfth Assembly of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) was a milestone opportunity to affirm the Lutheran communion as a shared gift and affirm its task to witness in the world with gratitude and joy.
In the Assembly Message from the 10-16 May gathering of LWF’s highest decision-making body, the member church delegates said, “Liberated by God’s grace, we are freed from sin to turn outward to thankfully and joyfully love and serve our neighbor.”
Liberated by God’s grace
The delegates said discussions on the theme and sub-themes had reaffirmed that God’s unconditional love is a free gift and that salvation, human beings and creation are “not for sale.”
Meeting during the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, they stated in the Assembly message that the LWF is a communion liberated by God’s grace in all aspects of its life and self-understanding. The delegates recognized the gift and task of communion in LWF’s commitment to reconciliation, communion building and prophetic diakonia, amid many social and economic factors that put “freedom” to the test.
The delegates noted that while the pain of division is still experienced today, they rejoiced that LWF’s engagement in ecumenical dialogue has borne fruit. They thanked God for the October 2016 Joint Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration of the Reformation, the Mennonite action of reconciliation in July 2010, and the 1999 foundational Lutheran-Catholic Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification as experiences that “enliven us for the ministry of reconciliation entrusted to us.”
They commended ongoing interreligious dialogue and collaboration “for the common good,” but noted need for competencies on issues such as pastoral care for interreligious families.
Affirming the longing for reconciliation in all places “ where God’s liberation is still needed,” the Assembly named Namibia’s search for reconciliation with Germany, its former colonial power; and the long-standing conflict in the Holy Land.
The Assembly gave thanks for the continuing work and diaconal ministry of the LWF Department for World Service, ACT Alliance and that of ecumenical partners. It also expressed its thanks for recently established partnerships with Islamic Relief Worldwide and Caritas Internationalis.
The Assembly affirmed the UN 2030 agenda of Sustainable Development Goals, and called on churches in all countries to “commit or re-commit to doing their part to care for those often forgotten and excluded.”