Retiring LWF president says he leaves this Assembly “hopeful and grateful”
STUTTGART, Germany, 27 July 2010 — “The message from this Assembly, which grew out of the petition, ‘Give Us Today Our Daily Bread,’ is that we are not asking for bread alone, Bishop Mark S. Hanson said this afternoon at the closing press conference of the Eleventh Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). As Luther wrote in his explanation of this petition, “we are praying for everything that people need to sustain life each day,” said Hanson.
As they examined the fuller meaning of the Fourth Petition during the eight-day Assembly, delegates started to speak of “daily bread” in terms of food, environment, illegitimate debt, climate change and gender justice. Hanson, who completes his term as LWF President at the close of this Assembly today, added, “To have all that we collectively need does not mean only having food in our stomachs but also that there will be justice for all people and sustainability of our environment.”
He said that the meeting had been a “praying Assembly” and had been centered on worship, “where we experienced unity.” Hanson said that during the Assembly he had experienced “a deepening sense” that we belong to each other, and not just to each other but also to the world that cries out “Give Us Today Our Daily Bread”. We also belong to the church, which is “more than Lutherans,” the bishop said. In this Assembly we did not look inwards towards ourselves but outwards towards others, because “we believe that God frees us in Christ to serve and love our neighbor in the world.”
LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko said that the meeting had been very significant because the act of repentance and forgiveness between the Lutherans and Mennonites had taken place in the land of Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon. “This is the best place I could have ended my responsibilities,” he said, referring to the fact that he will retire as LWF General Secretary in October.
Bishop Dr Frank O. July of the host church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Württemberg, echoed similar sentiments, saying that local church members were eager to see the reconciliation between the Lutherans and Mennonites taking place in their city. The action was indicative of the “Stuttgart spirit,” July said.
The LWF has been renewed in its spirit and commitment, Hanson said. “I came to Stuttgart hopeful, and I will be leaving hopeful and grateful. So long as we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless and provide tents for refugees, we will be instruments of God’s answer to the prayer of others, ‘Give Us Today Our Daily Bread.’ (445 words)