Asian women delegates gather to prepare for the Assembly

Women delegates from LWF member churches in Asia make paper windmills at the Women in Church and Society meeting, held before the regional Pre-Assembly. Photo: LWF/A. Danielsson
Women delegates from LWF member churches in Asia make paper windmills at the Women in Church and Society meeting, held before the regional Pre-Assembly. Photo: LWF/A. Danielsson

LWF Women on the Move program, Gender Justice Policy introduced at regional meeting

(LWI) - On Sunday morning singing echoed in the corridors of the Camillian Center in Bangkok, Thailand: "Help me believe in what I could be and all that I am, Lord... show me the way one day at a time."

Women delegates from The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches in Asia were gathered for the Women in Church and Society (WICAS) meeting before the regional Pre-Assembly, taking place in Thailand's capital, 15-19 August.

LWF churches in Asia have nominated delegates to participate in the Twelfth Assembly, which will be held in Windhoek, Namibia next year. Some are ordained pastors, others lay and all are active in the churches. LWF WICAS secretary Rev. Dr Elaine Neuenfeldt led the women’s meeting together with WICAS regional coordinators Ranjita Christie Borgoary from the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches of India and Nora Samosir, Protestant Christian Batak Church in Indonesia.

The WICAS leaders presented the LWF Assembly to the delegates and explained their role there. They were also introduced to the work of the LWF Women on the Move program, which has four main themes: telling Herstories, implementing the LWF Gender Justice Policy, supporting women doing theology and strengthening the role of women in leadership.

Speaking out for justice

"We meet to speak out to the world that women need justice, in church and society," Borgoary said at the beginning of the meeting. She went on to explain the three important goals for WICAS, namely to make women’s work visible in the life of church and society; strengthen the network of women in the LWF; and explore the Assembly theme, "Liberated by God's Grace" from the perspective of women.

I have learned about the important role of women in expressing the ideas that support other women and also support changes in the church and society. I feel better informed and the examples we were introduced to in the meeting were helpful for the issues we will discuss at the assembly next year.
Desri Maria Sumbayak, Indonesia

These goals can be achieved by collecting women's stories, so called Herstories, from all LWF regions and sharing them with the global communion, and by implementing the Gender Justice Policy.

An important tool for change

Borgoary said the "gender justice policy helps us to change our cultural practices," adding that time had come to change culture and bring equality. "There will be equality and there will be justice." She said the policy was a useful guide for the churches and encouraged the women delegates to introduce it in their local contexts and support the churches in drafting their own policy.

One participant, Desri Maria Sumbayak from the Indonesian Christian Church, said this was the first time she was attending an LWF-organized WICAS meeting. "I have learned about the important role of women in expressing the ideas that support other women and also support changes in the church and society. I feel better informed and the examples we were introduced to in the meeting were helpful for the issues we will discuss at the assembly next year."

As one of the advisors to the women's organization in her church, she said she felt enabled "to start to talk to them, visit them, share with them and listen. Hopefully we can also bring that to the Assembly. I feel this has also empowered me to approach the leadership of our church to advocate on behalf of women.” Sumbayak said she also learned about both similarities and differences from the experiences of other women in Asia. 

Neuenfeldt said the outcomes of the day were very positive. “The Gender Justice Policy has been translated into many languages in Asia and this shows the relevance and ownership of this theme in the women’s network and in the churches. Many of the women were attending an LWF meeting for the first time. With this meeting they were empowered to take informed decisions at the Assembly as active delegates representing their churches and the region.”

Women from LWF member churches in Asia take part in an exercise. Photo: LWF/A. Danielsson

 

The Twelfth Assembly will be held in Windhoek, Namibia, 10-16 May 2017. Around 800 participants are expected at the event that will include a commemoration of the 500 years of the Reformation. The Assembly is LWF’s highest-decision making body, convening delegates from all the member churches every six to seven years. The Eleventh Assembly was held in July 2010 in Württemberg, Germany. Prior to the Assembly four regional Pre-Assemblies will be held in Bangkok, Thailand; Paramaribo, Suriname; Malmö, Sweden; and in Johannesburg, South Africa.

 

Further information

Women in church and society

LWF Assembly

LWF News

1 September 2016
PARAMARIBO, Suriname/GENEVA
19 August 2016
BANGKOK, Thailand/GENEVA
16 August 2016
BANGKOK, Thailand/GENEVA