Lay leadership: Strengthening the priesthood of all believers 

The 5th Lay Leaders Seminar brings together 31 participants from LWF member churches in 17 countries. Photo: Photo: LWF/A. Danielsson
The 5th Lay Leaders Seminar brings together 31 participants from LWF member churches in 17 countries. Photo: Photo: LWF/A. Danielsson

Fifth Lay Leaders Seminar shapes worldwide communion

(LWI) – “Church leadership is a shared responsibility,” says Rev. Katariina Kiilunen, Program Executive for Capacity Building and Leadership Development. The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) currently runs the 5th Lay Leaders Seminar to strengthen lay persons in this role. The program has 31 participants from LWF member churches in 17 countries. They are leaders in synods, women’s or other ministries, or church offices in their churches.

The seminar consists of two parts. First, a six-day online workshop in May 2022 introduced the lay leaders to systematic perspectives on leadership from a Lutheran point of view and leadership as portrayed in the New Testament. Before this, participants had received material for individual study and reflection.

A two-day follow-up workshop in June familiarized participants with the peer counseling method. They are then encouraged to practice this method in their church or region. During the third part, online peer support groups are established across churches, countries, and regions.

Spiritual exchange, sharing problems and joys, and learning about being Lutheran in diverse international contexts are integral parts of all modules.

“My view of leadership has changed totally,” says Cathy Nuamah from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana. “Previously, I thought leadership meant having to excel. This program has taught me how to have a reset. I realized that I am not alone – and that there is a worldwide connection among us.”“I learned a lot about Luther’s concept of the priesthood of all believers and the important role of lay persons,” says Anna Welander from the Church of Sweden.

Christopher Wordsworth from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Guyana says he will bring to his church “the message and action of servant leadership.” Also, he aims to “identify and develop new leaders to take responsibility in our areas of work.”

“Every church must have a vision and a mission,” says Jebiskel Mirdha from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Himalayan States. “The course made me realize that leadership is like sowing seeds and developing the gifts God gave to each one of us. – I will take the next five years to try just that. Also, I want to devote more time to spiritual formation.”

The course made me realize that leadership is like sowing seeds and developing the gifts God gave to each one of us.
Jebiskel MIRDHA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Himalayan States

"As baptized, we are members of the body of Christ,” underlines Rev. Kiilunen. “We are all called to proclaim the Gospel and bring our unique and diverse gifts for the well-being of others and the growing of the community.” The current seminar showed that LWF’s capacity building for lay leaders played a vital role in achieving this.

LWF’s Lay Leaders Seminars are conducted in collaboration with the LWF Center Wittenberg.

By LWF/A. Weyermüller