The Assembly, normally held every six years, is the LWF’s highest decision-making body.
Past LWF Assemblies
- 1947 – Lund, Sweden, The Lutheran Church in the World Today
- 1952 – Hanover, Germany, The Living Word in a Responsible Church
- 1957 – Minneapolis, USA, Christ Frees and Unites
- 1963 – Helsinki, Finland, Christ Today
- 1970 – Evian, France, Sent into the World
- 1977 – Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, In Christ – A New Community
- 1984 – Budapest, Hungary, In Christ – Hope for the World
- 1990 – Curitiba, Brazil, I Have Heard the Cry of My People
- 1997 – Hong Kong, China, In Christ – Called to Witness
- 2003 – Winnipeg, Canada, For the Healing of the World
- 2010 – Stuttgart, Germany, Give Us Today Our Daily Bread
1947 – Lund, Sweden, The Lutheran Church in the World Today
Two hundred voting delegates met in Lund, Sweden, 30 June – 6 July 1947 for the Assembly that marked the LWF’s founding. Many came from bombed cities and countries drawn into the storm of World War II. Armed with the determination to forgive and rethink the vision of “the enemy,” they shared a commitment to seek new ways of living together in Christian communion.
1952 – Hanover, Germany, The Living Word in a Responsible Church
The Second Assembly was held in Hanover, Federal Republic of Germany, 25 July – 3 August 1952. It convened in a city scarred by World War II, but with a will to reconstruct. The LWF was the first large, international organization to meet in Germany after the war and to elect a German as its president.
Delegates took important decisions to strengthen the LWF, opening paths for laity and youth to participate in the life of the communion. The Departments of Theology, World Service and World Missions were established.
1957 – Minneapolis, USA, Christ Frees and Unites
The Third Assembly was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 15-25 August 1957. Of the total 145 delegates, 115 came from Western Europe, 60 from North America, 16 from Asia, 7 from Latin America and 5 from Africa. Several participants from Eastern Europe were also present despite visa difficulties.
A sense of optimism about the future of institutional religion flavored the Assembly. Delegates shared of struggles in their respective regions: Africans of overcoming colonialism’s legacy in their newly emerging nations; Asians of political opposition; and Europeans of the East-West divide.
1963 – Helsinki, Finland, Christ Today
The Fourth Assembly was held in Helsinki, Finland, 30 July – 11 August 1963. Opportunity was in the air. Communication was increasing between countries and continents. Technical progress was being made, as evidenced by the broadcasting service, Radio Voice of the Gospel, established by the LWF in Ethiopia. Ecumenical breakthroughs were happening, such as the Second Vatican Council and the LWF’s founding of the forerunner of the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, France. At the same time, the Assembly could not reach agreement on how to express the doctrine of justification in ways that were relevant for “people of today.”
1970 – Evian, France, Sent into the World
The Fifth Assembly, 14-24 July 1970, was the most significant of all LWF Assemblies past and future. Attempts to meet in the German Democratic Republic were blocked by the East German government. Protests about human rights violations in Brazil stalled the first LWF gathering in the global South only five weeks before the opening session.
Moved to Evian, France, the Assembly was shaped by the pivotal role of youth delegates who demanded changes to the traditional ways of working and communicating. Delegates adopted a new LWF structure, passed a resolution on human rights and recommended pulpit and altar fellowship between member churches.
1977 – Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, In Christ – A New Community
The Sixth Assembly was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 13-25 June 1977, the first Assembly in Africa and the global South. Issues faced by African churches came to the fore. Delegates identified apartheid in the church in Southern Africa as compromising the integrity of the proclamation of the gospel. They also established a Lutheran perspective on mission, witness and global partnerships in mission. The Assembly moved to create a Youth Desk and laid the foundation for a Women’s Desk.
1984 – Budapest, Hungary, In Christ – Hope for the World
The Seventh Assembly was held in Budapest, Hungary, 22 July – 5 August 1984. The venue constituted another milestone: the first LWF Assembly and meeting of a major international Christian organization in the “Second World,” the then Communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
Delegates suspended the membership of two white Southern African churches due to their continued failure to end racial division in their churches. Member churches affirmed pulpit and altar fellowship through a constitutional change. The Assembly resolved to ensure an equal number of female Assembly delegates by the Ninth Assembly.
1990 – Curitiba, Brazil, I Have Heard the Cry of My People
The Eighth Assembly met in Curitiba, Brazil, 29 January – 8 February 1990, the first and long-awaited Assembly in Latin America. It was a time of extraordinary change with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Restructuring was at the center of the Assembly as well. Delegates affirmed the LWF’s self-understanding as a “communion of churches,” with significant changes to its constitution. They established equal representation of Southern and Northern member churches on the LWF Council. The Assembly also set a goal of achieving full communion between the Lutheran and Anglican traditions.
1997 – Hong Kong, China, In Christ – Called to Witness
TheNinth Assembly met in Hong Kong, China, 8-16 July 1997, one week after the territory’s transfer of sovereignty by British authorities back to Chinese rule. This first Lutheran global meeting in Asia focused on the celebration of the LWF’s fiftieth anniversary. It set a process in motion for the acceptance by member churches of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification between the LWF and the Roman Catholic Church.
For the first time, close to 50% of the delegates were women. The Assembly reaffirmed the commitment to women’s ordination, but acknowledged member churches’ varying views on the practice by urging reflection and dialogue.
2003 – Winnipeg, Canada, For the Healing of the World
The Tenth Assembly was held in Winnipeg, Canada, 21-31 July 2003. Delegates adopted “The Lutheran World Federation – A Communion of Churches” as the LWF’s full name and affirmed regional ecumenical agreements for the first time.
The Assembly theme led to commitments to transform economic globalization; strengthen ministries addressing HIV and AIDS, violence and poverty; and defend the rights of indigenous peoples.
The denial of entry visas for 50 delegates and stewards highlighted the deeper issue of exclusion. Delegates moved to remove any existing barriers to a fully inclusive communion. The Assembly also called on member churches to engage in study and respectful dialogue on marriage, family and human sexuality.
2010 – Stuttgart, Germany, Give Us Today Our Daily Bread
The Eleventh Assembly took place in Stuttgart, Germany, on 20-27 July 2010.
From Federation to Communion: The History of the Lutheran World Federation. To order, contact the LWF Office for Communication Services.