Council endorses proposal for a continued sustainable LWF

The LWF Council has endorsed a process to envision a continued sustainable LWF. Photo: LWF/S. Gallay
The LWF Council has endorsed a process to envision a continued sustainable LWF. Photo: LWF/S. Gallay

Important step in addressing long-term challenges

GENEVA, 22 June 2015 (LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Council has endorsed proposals for a process to envision a continued sustainable LWF.

On the last day of its 18-22 June meeting in Geneva, the Council approved the document “Towards a sustainable projection of the LWF and its Communion Office.” The governing body asked the General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge to present a follow-up report to the Meeting of Officers in November 2015 and the next Council meeting in June 2016.

The proposed directions focus on how to express a theologically-grounded understanding of LWF’s sustainability from the premise of Lutheran vocation and witness in a world that longs for justice, peace and reconciliation. The proposals particularly refer to measures taken by the LWF Communion Office (CO) in 2015 to control the risk resulting from the unexpected and challenging loss of some of the organization’s income due to sudden depreciation of the Euro against the Swiss Franc.

The sustainable projection of the LWF and its CO is “our attempt to move from a reactive mode imposed on us by unexpected circumstances, but that will remain beyond 2015, and shift to proactively addressing the challenges the events have brought to surface,” Junge stated in the report’s introduction.

National Bishop Susan C. Johnson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, expressed appreciation for the document and opportunity to discuss comprehensively the various issues involved. “When we look at the whole picture, we can look at what we do well and remain sustainable,” noted the LWF Vice-President for the North American region.

Link to member churches

Rev. Naoki Asano, Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church, said sustainability of the LWF is also linked to that of its member churches. He said many churches are faced with the issue of an increasingly aging church membership and the challenge of getting the younger generation actively engaged.

Rev. Klaus Rieth, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Württemberg, Germany, said it was important to find ways to share “better among ourselves” the experiences from the different LWF regions. “We have representatives of churches that grow massively, while we in the North are losing our members,” he noted. It is important to learn from each other about spirituality, he stressed.

The different networks among the LWF churches at regional levels can offer some learning about active engagement and visibility, said Hellen Javier Rios Carrillo from the Nicaraguan Lutheran Church of Faith and Hope. “I feel very much identified with the active youth and women’s networks in my region but the work of the LWF is not very well known.”

Volunteer contribution

The suggestion about volunteer contribution generated varied discussion, with overall appreciation for the various gifts this group brings to churches and the LWF but concern that resources and coordination are required to ensure effective and meaningful contribution. “We have so many people that carry the LWF in their hearts. This enthusiasm is one of the best treasures that I find,” remarked Ms Magnea Sverrisdottir, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland, referring to the possible voluntary contribution of those who have served as Council members.

“I come from a church federation where a lot is being done by volunteers, but we do need structures for this,” said Rev. Dagmar Magold from the Federation of Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. She noted that there are possibilities of reaching out to younger people and getting them engaged in project-related work of the church.

Transparent process

A sustainable LWF is also linked with the location of the CO. “This is a complicated and delicate question as it depends on a lot of indicators,” noted Württemberg Bishop Dr Frank O. July. The LWF Vice-President for Central Western Europe emphasized the need to set in place a transparent process of discussing the different possibilities.

General Secretary Junge said, “We have journeyed thus far and continue to grow and move dynamically every day, step by step. We are seeing millions of eyes looking at the LWF as a source of hope and empowerment.”

There were also remarks about the need to be cautious about safeguarding LWF’s theological content, Lutheran identity and ownership by its stakeholders. “Our shared understanding about the stewardship of the communion is critical when we discuss sustainability,” Junge underlined.

In endorsing the principles of the document, the Council authorized the general secretary to establish a follow-up process that will continue to involve the LWF President and Vice-Presidents, as well as the Council at the respective stages.

Council 2015: more information