International Day of Peace: LWF offers platforms for young people to engage in peacebuilding
(LWI) – As the International Day of Peace is observed worldwide today, Lutheran youth from around the world continue to lift up different topics related to peacebuilding as part of their focus on 2022 as the year of peace.
At the quarterly online meeting of the Global Young Reformers Network attended by 50 delegates from around the world on 18 September, 11 delegates from Asia led conversations and prayers around unity, peacebuilding and intergenerational dialogue. The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Youth program offers a platform where they can convene events and create resources for young people of faith across the globe, with a goal to continue reforming the church, sharing love for God and all creation.
“Pass it on,” is the message that I learnt from the online gathering last Sunday and this message will always be on my mind and heart. There is a powerful potential in youth leaders today. We all have peace, love, and wisdom to share,” said Neema Ndone, from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania.
Prayers for peace are also part of the youth-led worship service accompanied by an online resource of prayers, blessings, and Bible readings prepared by the Global Young Reformers for International Youth Day in August. The resource is available online and can be downloaded for use by individuals and church groups.
“In this time when the world is flooded with anxiety and fear about war and sickness and worries about the future; we pray that your peace may flood the earth and fill each person’s heart. We pray that all may bring their worries to you and may find rest,” wrote Elsa Matthias, Lutheran Church of Australia.
The Peace Messengers, another youth program, supports youth with training and initiating small-scale community-based projects to promote peace. Luiz Henrique Seidel, Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil, a Peace Messenger, shared prayers for guidance for “leaders in the resolution of conflicts and ending wars around the planet,” and the strength for “all those who seek justice so that we can promote more and more equity in society.”
Peace Messenger Malva Rosenfeld, Church of Sweden, offers prayers “that we will inspire one another to see the good in everything, to do good for the world and for our sisters and brothers.”
While the LWF can support only a limited number of youth to participate in the annual Peace Messengers training, the number of applicants is encouraging, says Ms Savanna Sullivan, LWF Program Executive for Youth. Almost 200 applied to be part of the last training in June, which could accommodate 16 delegates from 14 member churches. A second Peace Messengers training is scheduled to be held in Rwanda in December 2022.
More than 150 youth from all seven regions of the LWF have participated in the quarterly Global Young Reformers’ online events since January 2022 under the theme, “Blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).”
Peacebuilding as a theme for this year “has turned out to be an incredibly timely and prophetic topic,” notes Sullivan. The LWF Youth program has offered space for young people from around the world to talk about their faith, encourage one another, and share ideas about how to advance peace in the church and society. Topics that have been discussed include peacebuilding and gender justice, welcome (especially of migrants and refugees), climate justice, and intergenerational relationships.
“Youth are leading the way in the LWF to continue these important conversations and take action in their own regions and member churches,” Sullivan added.