Putting faith into practice in words and deeds
LWF General Secretary addresses synod of Protestant Church in the Netherlands
(LWI) – “In the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), we understand our work as gratitude for God’s liberating grace that enables us to turn our eyes from ourselves to our neighbors and their needs. I am glad that your church belongs to this worldwide family, enriching it with your gifts,” said LWF General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt to the synod of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands on 21 April.
During her first visit to LWF’s Central and Western Europe region, Burghardt presented the communion of churches and its areas of work to the synod members gathered in Lunteren.
Rev. Dr René de Reuver, scriba of the church synod, commended the LWF’s Ukraine response, adding that his church joined such actions to help through ecumenical partners. “As churches, we belong to the one spirit, the one body of Christ, and share the one hope for God’s kingdom to come. These three aspects come together in unity,” de Reuver said.
Rev. Dr Andreas Wöhle, president of the Lutheran synod, said that meeting the General Secretary in person was particularly significant after the time when the COVID-19 pandemic had forced many meetings to take place online. Burghardt’s visit “symbolizes who we are and want to be: a warm and welcoming family of people of faith, living in different social and cultural settings, sharing one hope. We know that we need one another to serve our societies from the perspective of the Gospel.”
Putting faith into practice
In her presentation, Burghardt talked about how the LWF puts faith into action by combining work with member churches, theology, advocacy, and humanitarian aid. An example of that is LWF’s response to the war in Ukraine and how refugees are supported. She said that the LWF aimed at a holistic response to the crisis, ensuring that the diaconal support offered to Ukrainian refugees through LWF member churches in neighboring countries is organized in close cooperation with the humanitarian response through World Service. Currently, LWF is providing support through its member church in Ukraine and member churches in neighboring countries, particularly Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania.
“At the same time, we are constantly reminded that other crises in the world have not disappeared, and we need to continue to offer our support elsewhere as well.” For example, during a recent visit to East Africa, she witnessed the work of the LWF World Service country program in Uganda, where the LWF supports around 700,000 out of 1.3 million refugees in the country. Burghardt said she was “deeply impressed” by the work done there in the past years.
One Body, One Spirit, One Hope
Referring to the upcoming Thirteenth LWF Assembly in Poland next year, Burghardt stressed that recent developments in the region and their unclear consequences had made the theme of “One Body, One Spirit, One Hope” increasingly important.
“With millions of new refugees in Europe as a consequence of the war in Ukraine, with still unclear consequences of this war on energy, politics and climate issues, with increased questioning of democratic structures and polarization of societies around the world and attempts to instrumentalize theology in the interest of reaching ideological aims, we as churches, as people of God, are called to be the messengers of hope and reconciliation,” Burghardt concluded.
The Protestant Church in the Netherlands has been a member of the LWF since 2004. The church has more than 1.7 million members, of whom about 12.000 are Lutherans.
By LWF/A. Weyermüller