Faith is based on communication and understanding, say German leaders at Workshop Wittenberg opening

During opening worship in the Castle Church, young reformers were invited to bring to the altar symbolic gifts from their respective regions. Photo: LWF/Marko Schoeneberg
During opening worship in the Castle Church, young reformers were invited to bring to the altar symbolic gifts from their respective regions. Photo: LWF/Marko Schoeneberg

Opening of Workshop Wittenberg celebrated with street parade, city tour, official greetings and opening worship.

WITTENBERG /GENEVA, 24 August 2015 (LWI)  – “An important social aspect on our way towards the great Reformation commemoration in 2017,” is how The Prime Minister of Saxony-Anhalt  Dr Reiner Haseloff described the coming together of Lutherans from all over the world in Wittenberg over the next two weeks. 

Welcoming the first global gathering of Lutheran youth to Wittenberg, the city of the Reformation, Haseloff said faith had to be continuously redeveloped. In principle, faith is “always young, always up-to-date,” he said in his speech at the Wittenberg Townhall.

The Global Young Reformers Network (GYRN) workshop, taking place 23 August to 4 September brings together 140 young adults from more than 80 LWF member churches in 60 countries.

One challenge is how to “put faith in relation to the modern communication facilities and the reality of the globalized world,” the premier said. He noted that this task could be best entrusted in a special way to the young participants of the Wittenberg workshop.

“That's why I bid you welcome with great joy to Saxony-Anhalt and my home town of Wittenberg,” he added.

Earlier, Bishop Ilse Junkermann of the Evangelical Church in Central Germany (EKM) preached at the opening service in the Castle Church on the theme of the workshop, "Freed by God's love to change the world”.

She said that freedom today is most often interpreted in an individual’s ability to manage on oneself without having to depend on others. For people who are facing difficulties, that is the dominant response in our society. There is "nothing worse, at least in Western societies, as to be dependent on others,” Junkermann added.

She described the notion of “unlimited freedom” as in fact an “illusion of freedom.”  She reminded the congregation that Luther's great achievement was the discovery that there is freedom only in the bond with God through Jesus Christ for those who turn freely to him.

The EKM bishop recommended this understanding of freedom as a motif for the joint work of the Wittenberg workshop, which focuses on the development of Reformation projects by the young reformers.  “Yes , he [Jesus Christ ] needs us, also you young reformers, to pass on this freedom that springs from God’s love,” the bishop emphasized.

She expressed her hope that “the projects you create here breathe this spirit of freedom and love” and that God’s spirit would lighten our hearts to receive its creative power.”

The GYRN is a program of the LWF Youth desk at the Department for Mission and Development. As the Lutheran communion prepares for the 500th Reformation anniversary, the initiative will facilitate the greater involvement of young people in all aspects of church life.

Under its theme, the Wittenberg workshop offers mutual exchange and global learning. Participants will develop Reformation projects they want to implement by 2017 in their home churches.

 

For global press enquiries please contact Pauline Mumia, Journalist with the LWF, at pmu@lutheranworld.org

 

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