Concluding message from Oxford Pre-Assembly calls for hope amid war, climate crisis and mental health pandemic
(LWI) - Searching for “credible and transformative hope” in the midst of a war against Ukraine, a deepening climate crisis, the ongoing consequences of COVID-19 and a ‘shadow’ mental health pandemic affecting young people in particular. These are the key concerns of churches in the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) European regions, reflected in a concluding message from their 21 to 24 March Pre-Assembly.
Around a hundred and twenty representatives of churches in the Western, Eastern and Nordic regions gathered in Mansfield College, Oxford, to look ahead to the LWF’s Thirteenth Assembly, scheduled from 13 to 19 September in Krakow, Poland. In the context of declining church membership across the region, the delegates acknowledged the huge challenges they face in remaining relevant, hopeful and responsive to people’s spiritual needs.
“We must find new ways of being church,” participants stressed, with many of them calling for renewed “work on our theology of peace and self-defense, questioning how we can be peacemakers in our time.” Bishop Pavlo Shvarts of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ukraine was among those presenting testimony of how congregations in Kharkiv and elsewhere are struggling to survive and to continue offering pastoral care to the most vulnerable victims of the war in his country.