German and Tanzanian Lutheran leaders affirm mutual solidarity
Wittenberg meeting on “Reformation and One World”
(LWI) – Representatives of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches in Tanzania and Germany met in Wittenberg, Germany, where they reflected on the Reformation and its global implications. Following discussions over issues of common concern, they affirmed their mutual solidarity in the Lutheran communion.
The bishops’ conference of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (VELKD) and representatives of bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) had intensive sharing about issues of common concern for the LWF member churches. The theme “Reformation as a Global Citizen: Reformation and One World” guided their 4-8 March deliberations.
For Presiding Bishop Dr Frederick Shoo, heading ELCT’s delegation of six church leaders, it became clear in the discussions that Reformation means a holistic change that takes into account the mission of the church in the world. In view of global challenges such as climate change, resource shortage or security, a radical change of human action was necessary in order to protect and care for the creation entrusted to human beings, noted Shoo, who is bishop of ELCT’s Northern Diocese.
VELKD Presiding Bishop Gerhard Ulrich, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany, led the 17-member VELKD delegation comprising bishops and other church officials. The multicultural and multinational background provided the setting for inputs and lectures on a broad range of issues including the LWF policy paper “The Self-Understanding of the Lutheran Communion.” A presentation on hermeneutics explored the different traditions of interpreting Scripture as Lutherans. Intercultural dimensions of the Reformation in Africa and the challenges currently facing Lutherans in Tanzania were discussed under the topic, “From Marangu to Wittenberg.”
Participants in the conference included ELCT Coastal Diocese Bishop and LWF Vice-President for Africa Dr Alex G. Malasusa, Württemberg Bishop Dr Frank O. July, LWF Vice-President for Central Western Europe Dr Claudia Jahnel, coordinator for intercultural mission at Mission Eine Welt in Germany; and ELCT deputy secretary general for social services Rev. Rachel Axwesso.
The conference included sessions with visiting leaders of LWF member churches in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland and Sweden, and participants in the 27 February – 12 March international seminar at the LWF Center in Wittenberg.
The VELKD and ELCT leaders stated their commitment to ongoing mutual conversations and exchange. For the Tanzanian church, this meeting continued a series it started in 2014, with a goal of enriching mutual exchange with its partner churches in the Lutheran communion.
VELKD comprises seven German churches with a total membership of 9.5 million. The ELCT has more than 6.5 million members in its 24 dioceses throughout Tanzania.
The VELKD press office contributed to this article.