Across Generations without Fear or Different Status

Mami Brunah Aro Sandaniaina of the Malagasy Lutheran Church asks the Council how their churches engage young people who have taken part in LWF youth programs. Photo: LWF/M. Renaux
Mami Brunah Aro Sandaniaina of the Malagasy Lutheran Church asks the Council how their churches engage young people who have taken part in LWF youth programs. Photo: LWF/M. Renaux

Council Looks at Youth Participation in the LWF Communion

(LWI) - When The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) celebrates the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation in 2017, youth will play a confident role in the “communion of generations,” says LWF Youth Secretary Ms Caroline Richter.

“I imagine they will discuss and engage without fear or different status or expertise, but with confidence, in mutual respect and trustful relationships with each other,” she notes.

During the 11-17 June LWF Council meeting in Medan, Indonesia, the participants were introduced to Youth Participation as a cross-cutting LWF priority.

The Council session “A Picture on Youth Participation in the LWF communion,” led by the young Council members and advisers, focused around 1 Corinthians 12, highlighting how all Christians are part of the body of Christ and that they are all essential if the body is to function properly.

The youth presented an 84-page publication “Here I am, for you called me”- Youth Participation and Leadership in the LWF Member Churches.” The document summarizes a survey done among the LWF member churches on sharing and learning among the different generations and the facilitation of meaningful youth participation represented in the Lutheran communion. In addition, the toolkit “Intergenerational Sharing” was launched and presented during that session.

Meaningful Participation

Young Council member Ms Danielle Dokman from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Suriname, who is also chairperson of the Subcommittee for Mission and Development, said the LWF has taught her how to serve her neighbor and use her skills to be a leader in the church both regionally and globally.

Interviewed by a young Council member during that session, LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge said that he has great memories of his time as a youth steward at the LWF Assembly in 1990.

Junge expressed particular appreciation for young leaders’ participation in the LWF processes: Global Young Reformers Network; and the climate justice advocacy work focused on the Conference of the Parties (COP) negotiations for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the campaign “Fast for the Climate”.

Junge expressed his hope that the LWF will continue to “nurture youth in specific processes, and provide space for them to be in contact with the LWF, learning together and giving back to their churches.”

Rev. Dr Rafael Malpica-Padilla from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America said he would like the Lutheran churches to abandon the traditional notion of youth being consumers of the experiences that the church provides for them, and instead provide opportunities for youth to participate in program development.

Council member Bishop emeritus Dr Zephania Kameeta of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia, who himself previously served as a young Council member, advocated that churches should engage young people when they return from international engagements so as to avoid the “wasting of youth experiences.” He said that he would utilize youth within church structures so they can share their experiences, including what they have learned and what has empowered them.

Ms Magnea Sverrisdottir from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland, expressed appreciation for the toolkit for intergenerational sharing in the LWF communion that has been produced by the youth secretary as a companion publication to “Here I am.” She said it will help small churches get new ideas on how to integrate different generations in church life.

“The youth are part of the church, and in my church it is important to be reminded that we are a big part of the communion. The concept of being together is relevant and a bigger thing. I express my gratitude for this well rooted document,” Sverrisdottir said.

Call for Optimism in Working for Youth Participation

Council members were urged to commit to using the intergenerational toolkit in at least one strategic session in their churches before the next Council meeting in 2015. They were also asked to give youth the space to report on their activities and make an impact on their churches.

The Youth Secretary expressed her optimism that the LWF will maintain youth participation as a cross-cutting priority. She believes that as the LWF approaches the 2017 celebrations, there will be many more young professionals taking part in church activities who will be taken seriously.

“I imagine that one day we will not even notice having a youth quota as it will be so natural for young people to be included in all decision-making processes,” Richter added.

 “Here I am; for you called me.” - Youth Participation and Leadership in the LWF Member Churches | Intergenerational Sharing in the LWF Communion – Toolkit

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