Americas: “God breathed life unto dry bones”
LWF member churches of the Americas gather to discuss post-pandemic challenges and opportunities
(LWI) - Coming together under the theme “God breathed life unto dry bones,” leaders from the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches in Latin America and the Caribbean and North America are gathering from 9-13 May to engage in dialogue, reflect on challenges the churches face, shared experiences, and the good news of Christ’s presence in the Americas.
Hosted jointly by the Lutheran Church in Chile (ILCH) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile (IELCH), representatives of the regions are meeting in person for the first time in three years, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
LWF Regional Secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean and North America Rev. Sonia Skupch said the text in Ezekiel is a strong image for the opening of this gathering after the pandemic, “as churches and societies we went through so many difficulties during these last years, and this story reflects our realities and our hopes.”
The meeting brings together representatives from 19 churches in the LAC region and from the two churches in the NA region. "I pray that this leadership conference will be a space of encounter and that our liturgical spaces inspire us and fill us with hope and passion for our churches and for the world," said Skupch.
The 2022 Leadership Conference of the Americas also welcomed LWF General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt who is visiting the Americas for the first time since she was elected as LWF General Secretary in June, last year. It is also the first in-person leadership conference for Skupch as the LWF Regional Secretary for the regions.
“LWF brings together different churches who serve in different contexts and differ in size and history. But all of them, all of your churches which are represented here, are equally important, all share their gifts with each other and learn from each other; sometimes, when needed, also talk in prophetic voice to each other,” Burghardt said in her greeting.
LWF brings together different churches who serve in different contexts and differ in size and history. But all of them, all of your churches which are represented here, are equally important, all share their gifts with each other and learn from each other; sometimes, when needed, also talk in prophetic voice to each other.
A delegation of the Leadership Conference of the Americas in the chapel of the Palacio de La Moneda during a visit to the Presidential headquarters on Monday. Photo: E. Albrecht/IERP
The Chilean Minister General Secretary of the Presidency Mr. Giorgio Jackson, welcomed a delegation to the Palacio de La Moneda de Chile, the headquarters of governmental affairs and ministries in Chile. The government official assured the delegation of the president’s commitment to religious freedom, stating that “it is a basic human right of people and that is very important to us.”
“Churches have a capacity, through their diaconal ministry, to reach people that are not reached by the policies of the government,” Jackson told the delegation. “This is something we can learn from you.”
LWF Program Executive for Gender Justice and Women’s Empowerment Department for Theology, Mission and Justice Rev. Dr Marcia Blasi opens the LAC and NA Women and Gender Justice Network with a balloon toss during the Leadership Conference of the Americas on Monday. Photo: LWF/A.Gray
LWF General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt speaks to the Youth Network during the Leadership Conference of the Americas before sitting to listen to the ideas and visions of the LAC and NA youth. Photo: LWF/A.Gray
The Women and Gender Justice Network and the Youth Networks convened before the conference, followed by opening worship presided by the leaders of IELCH and ILCH, Bishop Izani Bruch and Bishop Alexis Salgado, along with former IELCH Bishop Gloria Rojas and assisted by pastors from the two host churches.
Right; IELCH Bishop Bruch and Left; ILCH Bishop Salgado deliver the benediction at the close of the Leadership Conference of the Americas worship on Monday. Photo: LWF/E. Albrecht
In his sermon, Bishop Salgado said that the theme of the conference “is not only a message to make known that many have risen, but also to the messengers themselves, in this case Ezekiel.”
He emphasized that his message for the leadership conference is for “all of us who are concerned about the post pandemic situation, all those who feel discouraged, afflicted, without a way out, and I speak to those of us who have been called to speak the Word. We too need to be shepherded, counseled and lifted up.”