LWF launches survey on contemporary Lutheran identity
Questionnaire seeks participation from all member churches as preparation for Thirteenth Assembly in Krakow, Poland
(LWI) - How does your Lutheran faith inform your life and your work? How do your beliefs shape family and community relationships? What does it mean to be Lutheran in your particular national and cultural context?
Those questions are at the heart of a new survey that is being sent this week to member churches of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) as the next step of an ongoing study process on contemporary Lutheran identity. The process began with a global consultation of theologians and other experts in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in October 2019 and has been the subject of a series of monthly webinars in 2020 to deepen dialogue and theological reflection.
In a letter sent to leaders of the 148 member churches, LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge says the survey marks "a further milestone” in the process by amplifying opportunities for widespread participation. The process, he notes, “builds on the self-understanding of a the LWF as a communion of churches that share their gifts and their insights, in a spirit of mutuality and solidarity, as they participate in God’s mission in their contexts.”
‘We believe in the Spirit’
The survey, which explores views about baptism, beliefs and liturgical practices, is an important part of preparations for the next LWF Assembly scheduled for September 2023 in Krakow, Poland. The Thirteenth Assembly will focus on the theme ‘One Body, One Spirit, One Hope’ and will be hosted by the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland.
Church leaders are encouraged to circulate the user-friendly survey as widely as possible to all members of their churches, both lay or ordained. It is accompanied by a discussion guide to help pastors lead conversations and reflection at local congregational, parish or diocesan level. Feedback from the questionnaire will be welcomed until 31 March 2021, while responses to the study guide will be received until 30 June.
Information received from the survey will be analyzed and presented at the next Assembly, although contributions from individuals and churches will remain anonymous. The goal of the process, entitled ‘We believe in the Holy Spirit’, is to “listen for ways in which we express our shared Lutheran identity in a harmony of lived, contextual identities across our communion.”
We hope that this survey and discussion guides will inspire local churches to explore the creative diversity of our one faith, one hope and one baptismal vocation.
Rev. Dr Chad Rimmer, LWF’s program executive for Identity, Communion and Formation, said: “the Biblical, liturgical, confessional, theological and spiritual foundations of our shared Lutheran tradition are translated through a beautiful mosaic of languages, cultures and vocations in different contexts across our communion.”
“When we engage in dialogue with Lutheran sisters and brothers from social, political, economic and ecological contexts that are different from ours, we expand our own understanding of what it means to be Lutheran,” Rimmer said. “We hope that this survey and discussion guides will inspire local churches to explore the creative diversity of our one faith, one hope and one baptismal vocation and to participate in God’s transformational mission,” he added.