Polish church joins faith groups for peace conference

Bishop Samiec, from the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland. Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert
Bishop Samiec, from the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland. Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert

Religious leaders debate democracy and role of religions in the public space

(LWI) - Polish Protestants, Catholics, Muslims and Jews come together to discuss peace, democracy and the responsibility of religions in the public space during a conference in Warsaw on 16 September.

In a message to conference participants, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge highlighted the timeliness of the initiative and praised the Lutheran Church in Poland for “joining with others to make sure that peace continues to prevail” in times of “fragmentation, polarization and toxic discourse.”

Jointly organized by the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland and by Poland’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dr Adam Bodnar, the conference entitled ‘We Make Peace’ takes place in Warsaw’s Polin Museum. It includes workshops focusing on issues such as distinguishing the truth, opposing hatred, fighting poverty and accountability in peace making.

Responsibility of church in the public space

At the opening session, a Polish translation of the LWF document on ‘The Church in the Public Space’ was presented to participants, together with two documents on democracy and the politics of consensus produced by the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).

During a panel discussion later in the day, the head of the Polish Lutheran Church, Presiding Bishop Jerzy Samiec, will discuss the theme: ‘Freedom – a gift or a curse for believers?’ alongside his Catholic counterpart, the Polish primate Archbishop Wojciech Polak, the Lutheran Bishop of Uppsala in Sweden, Karin Johannesson, Rabbi Malgorzata Kordowicz and Dr Marek Moron, representing the Muslim Religious Union.

The conference was preceded by a worship service in Warsaw’s Holy Trinity Lutheran church on Sunday, a sombre reminder of the bombing and burning down of the neo-classical building exactly 80 years earlier, in September 1939, at the start of the Second World War.

Uniting to make peace prevail

In a special video message sent to conference participants, LWF General Secretary Junge underlined the urgency of faith groups uniting to make peace prevail. “As a global communion of 148 churches in 99 countries,” he said, the LWF is committed to the Gospel message of peace.

Where hate speech prevails, violence is around the corner.
Rev. Dr Martin JUNGE, LWF General Secretary

Highlighting the importance of the Warsaw conference, he said: “History tells us that the step from hate speech to hateful actions is a very small one.” The LWF leader added: “I believe it is so important that, as churches and as communities, we don’t allow hate speech to grow, because where hate speech prevails, violence is around the corner.”

The LWF is among a number of religious and academic organizations supporting the one day-conference. The Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland was a founding member of the LWF and will host the 13th LWF Assembly in Krakow in 2023.