Called to use communication for communion building in Europe

The participants of the communications workshop. Photo: LWF/Praxedis Bouwman
The participants of the communications workshop. Photo: LWF/Praxedis Bouwman

Communicators from LWF member churches in Europe meet in Riga

(LWI) Communicators of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches across Europe wrapped up their first joint meeting with a commitment to explore further how communication can be used for communion building in Europe.

Representing more than 20 churches across Europe, the communicators met in Riga, Latvia, hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia, to discuss ways of using communication as a means of building and nourishing the communion and of better communicating the work of European LWF churches as a region.

By coming together, the communicators promoted both the exchange and strengthening of communion building within the LWF throughout Europe. A focus of their discussion was the current social and political environment. In the information and post-truth society, with increasing secularization or lack of church affiliation, and in a changing European landscape, the big challenges are: How can churches be a church? How can churches be a Lutheran communion? How can the church contribute to the fight against manipulation and lies? How can the church communicate the over 2000-year-old message of love and be a guide in the critical reading of news and consumption of information?

“We need communion bridges, not walls”

The meeting used John 20:21 as its basis: “So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

Asia Liaison of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and former LWF deputy general secretary Rev. Dr Chandran Paul Martin, told the meeting, “Communication is key for imago deo, for missio Dei [the image of God, the mission of God]. Are we ashamed of the gospel? You Europeans brought the gospel to India, to Asia, to Africa. Does Europe now need the gospel from outside? And how do we understand theology in a different context?”

Professor Jolyon Mitchell, Professor of Communications, Arts and Religion, at the University of Edinburgh used the Emmaus story as a frame to discuss the post-truth and post-facts society. He looked into the situation in the world, where so many countries build barriers and challenged the the audience saying “communion bridges are needed, not walls.”

Dr Nienke Vos, of the Free University Amsterdam, looked into communication techniques used in early Christianity. “The church has always been an international organisation,” adding that Martin Luther was one of the first experts in branding.

Bishop emeritus Pavils Bruvers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Latvia introduced participants to the mission work of his church. Theological education, both for lay people and clergy, is core to the mission of the church. As many of the pastors serve congregations in remote areas, they need communications support.  

The second LWF European Communicators’ Meeting will be held late next year.

By Praxedis Bouwman. Edited by LWF Communications.