Reinforcing the contribution of lay people to the church

LWF Third International Lay Leaders’ Seminar, held from 27 June to 6 July in Geneva and Wittenberg. Participants Mabel Ngee-fui Ho (Malaysia), Melkion Panuaitan (Indonesia) and Anna Christine Ursula Unruh-lungfiel (Germany). Photo: LWF/S. Gallay
LWF Third International Lay Leaders’ Seminar, held from 27 June to 6 July in Geneva and Wittenberg. Participants Mabel Ngee-fui Ho (Malaysia), Melkion Panuaitan (Indonesia) and Anna Christine Ursula Unruh-lungfiel (Germany). Photo: LWF/S. Gallay

LWF International Lay Leaders’ Seminar takes place in Geneva and Wittenberg

(LWI) - “The seminar is a life-changing unique event that has widened my world view,” says Elizabeth Brennan Burgess from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Together with 21 other Lutherans from 16 countries the Executive Board Member of "Women of the ELCA" participated in the Lutheran World Federation’s (LWF) 3rd International Lay Leaders’ Seminar which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, and Wittenberg, Germany, from 27 June to 6 July.

Participants learnt about the LWF as a global communion of churches and about Lutheran theology. Meeting and interacting with people coming from other member churches their strengthened their identity as Lutheran Christians. Rebecca Ackwonu who chairs the Publicity Committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana summarized her experience: “I have listened to other countries' programs and experiences and realized that we are indeed one big family despite our diverse cultures. I am going back enriched and hope to be a better leader in my church.”

This seminar acknowledges and respects the theological learning capacity of lay people and the contribution they make to our churches.
Linda Macqueen, Lutheran Church of Australia

Linda Macqueen, communications manager of the Lutheran Church of Australia, added: “This seminar acknowledges and respects the theological learning capacity of lay people and the contribution they make to our churches. We are not only studying church history and theology, listening and learning, but also working out how our discoveries apply in our diverse church contexts and cultures.”

Rich and varied program

The first days of the seminar took place in Geneva where participants met the LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge and communion office staff who shared insights on the LWF as an organization and its worldwide programmatic work. A visit to the United Nations Office at Geneva was part of the agenda as well.

The second part of the seminar was held in Wittenberg and included visits to historical Luther sites and extensive thematic units by lecturing staff covering topics ranging from “Luther as translator and interpreter of the Bible” to “The Confession Augustana – the confessional foundation of Lutheran churches” and from “The importance of Philipp Melanchthon for education until today” to “Reformation: Again? – India as an example for the meaning of Luther’s insights today”.

Reflecting on the varied program Gwen Arneson, Vice President of the ELCA Southwestern Minnesota Synod gratefully states: “The depth of learning through expert lectures, guided tours, small group discussions, table conversations, participant presentations, and informal fellowship activities has enriched and expanded my mind, spirit and heart. It will be a joy to reflect upon, share with others, and integrate what I have learned from this seminar as I live into my daily callings and lay ministry work.”