ACT Alliance Assembly: Junge Stresses Tangible Expression of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace

Rev. Martin Junge, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, speaks to a plenary session of the second ACT Alliance assembly meeting in the Dominican Republic. Photo: Sean Hawkey
Rev. Martin Junge, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, speaks to a plenary session of the second ACT Alliance assembly meeting in the Dominican Republic. Photo: Sean Hawkey

World Service Interim Director Maria Immonen Elected to ACT Governing Board

(LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge underlined the ecumenical identity of the ACT Alliance as he spoke at the opening of the second General Assembly of the Alliance taking place in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

“The added value and the potential of the ACT Alliance is its rootedness in the ecumenical movement, its being nurtured by the ecumenical heartbeat,” said Junge.

The General Secretary called on the Alliance to “grow further and let ACT therefore truly become a tangible expression of what we do have in mind when we continue engaging in the ecumenical pilgrimage of justice and peace.”

The ACT Assembly took place, 20 – 24 October, with the theme “Join Hands: Full Life & Dignity for All.” On the agenda was the election of the ACT Governing Board as well as discussion and decision on the ACT Global Strategy 2015-2018.

Ms Maria Immonen, interim director of the LWF Department for World Service was elected as a member of the ACT Alliance board.

The LWF is a founding member of the ACT Alliance, which is a coalition of 148 churches and affiliated organizations working together on humanitarian work, development and advocacy in over 140 countries to create positive and sustainable change in the lives of poor and marginalized people. Members are associated with the World Council of Churches or the LWF.

Addressing the Assembly, Junge also emphasized the increasingly important role the LWF together with its partners in the global ACT Alliance can play in protecting refugees and other vulnerable people through partnerships with organizations such as the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and with other faith-based groups.

“A few weeks ago the LWF signed a new memorandum of understanding with the UNHCR in Geneva, a partnership agreement, which incorporated in strong ways the expectation of the UNHCR that LWF, together with other faith-based organizations, including also from other religions, would work together with UNHCR to better understand how faith and protection, how faith and resilience are connected together, and how faith actually can become a source of healing and transformation,” said Junge.

“UNHCR is calling upon us to bring to the table what uniquely and distinctively drives us to be engaged in the protection of refugees, creation to be taken care of, and human beings enjoying their rights.”

The memorandum of understanding with UNHCR “tells us that in a time when there are as many refugees as after the Second World War—50 million people—secular organizations are looking at the gifts we may offer to work together, in accordance with international standards, so that everybody may enjoy the rights to which they are entitled as human beings,” Junge added.

“At a time in which faith and religion are manipulated and hijacked for purposes of death and violence, I pray that as an Alliance we will become known as those who helped to retain the focus of faith and religion, namely to be a source of healing and life, life in abundance.”