Emphasis on good cooperation as LWF invites member churches and World Service to deepen joint work
LWF offers ‘Guidance Note’ affirming shared purpose to assist people who are most in need
(LWI) – Emphasis on good cooperation was the key message at a public webinar during which The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) launched its recently published guidelines on joint engagement of the communion’s member churches and its international diaconal arm, World Service.
Delivering his opening remarks at the 3 May launch of the Guidance Note: Joint Engagement of World Service Programs and Member Churches, LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge said this was “a good day” to be grateful for growing cooperation within the LWF, ecumenically and with multilateral organizations.
Junge referred to the organization’s founding in 1947 to emphasize that the basis for this joint engagement was because Lutheran churches recognized the need to support each other as they served together. The bold decision to establish the LWF in the aftermath of World War II was based on a theological conviction to “‘join hands’” and “‘focus our ministry of compassion on our neighbors.’”
The general secretary noted that the ‘Guidance Note’ launch coincided with the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding between the LWF and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), its longstanding partner. “The global communion of churches, develops its deepest meaning when it becomes a gift of compassion and justice for the people, particularly those needing it most,” he said.
The nearly 100 participants in the webinar included several leaders of LWF’s member churches from around the world, heads and staff of World Service in the 25 countries in which it is present, representatives of LWF’s related partner organizations and ecumenical bodies.
Junge emphasized that collaboration between the member churches and World Service programs was not only a task for Lutherans but also for other church diaconal actors. He said the new guidelines offer continuity to the so-called “Malawi Consultation” organized by the World Council of Churches and ACT Alliance in 2014 to envisage opportunities and boundaries for cooperation between the local church and specialized diaconal ministries. “We humbly offer the ‘Guidance Note’ as our own contribution to the wider ecumenical process,” he added.
Synergies to strengthen joint work
In her welcoming remarks, Ms Eva Christina Nilsson, director of the LWF Department for Theology, Mission and Justice emphasized that the long years of collaboration between the member churches and World Service include many good examples of fruitful collaboration. She noted the “need to link the competencies in humanitarian and development experience, faith literacy and local rootedness.” The Guidance Note “elaborates on new steps in order to find synergies and strengthen the work to be professional in its wider sense,” she said.
There is need to link the competence in humanitarian and development experience, faith literacy and local rootedness.
Examples from Colombia and Nepal
The webinar included video greetings from Asia and Latin America. Bishop President Atahualpa Hernandez of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia (IELCO) and the LWF Colombia country representative Ms Adriana Franco Chitanana, jointly explained how collaboration between two expressions of the LWF since 2002 has resulted in greater impact and visibility of their work. Their response to emergencies has been strengthened, as has the capacity to care for internally displaced populations, advocate for peace and promote sustainable community development.
In a multi-religious and multi-cultural country, the Nepal Evangelical Lutheran Church (NELC) and World Service program have been complementing each other’s expertise since 2010. NELC President Rev. Joseph Soren and LWF Nepal director, Dr Bijaya Bajracharya, said this collaboration ensures marginalized groups can live in dignity, their human rights are respected, and their capacity to establish sustainable livelihoods is developed.
Safe and secure water sources for marginalized communities is part of the joint collaboration between LWF Nepal and the Nepal Evangelical Lutheran Church in the eastern part of the country. Photo: LWF Nepal
In concluding remarks, Ms Maria Immonen, director of the LWF Department for World Service described the ‘Guidance Note’ as a call to both the member churches and LWF programs to find the mechanisms to work together. “We have different mandates but a common purpose to help those who need it the most to achieve transformation.”
We have different mandates but a common purpose to help those who need it the most to achieve transformation.
The launch of the ‘Guidance Note’ will be followed by regional online workshops to elaborate how it can be used in countries where the LWF is present and beyond. The publication was co-edited by Ms Marina Dölker, LWF Program Executive for Diakonia and Development, and Mr Allan Calma, Global Humanitarian Coordinator at World Service.
By LWF/P. Mumia
The 148 LWF member churches represent more than 77 million Christians in the Lutheran tradition in 99 countries across the globe. As a global communion of churches, the member churches live and work together for a just, peaceful, and reconciled world.
World Service is a widely recognized, international, faith-based organization working through country and emergency programs in 25 countries that support nearly 3 million people in need each year. LWF’s humanitarian and development arm seeks to bring people of all backgrounds together in the common quest for justice, peace, and reconciliation.