Shaping LWF’s strategy for the coming years

A delegate voting at the LWF Twelfth Assembly. Photo: LWF / Albin Hillert

Twelfth Assembly resolutions and public statements

GENEVA, 24 May 2017 - At its Twelfth Assembly in Windhoek, Namibia, The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) issued 26 resolutions calling the communion and its member churches to take action on various issues of concern. And, in three public statements, the Assembly stated LWF’s position on the genocide in Namibia and the German-Namibian reconciliation process, unrest in Venezuela, and politicization of religion in Indonesia

The Assembly is the highest decision-making body of the LWF. Under the theme “Liberated by God’s Grace,” 309 delegates from all LWF regions met from 10-16 May 2017 to discuss issues of concern for the member churches and define LWF’s strategy for the next six years.

Following are excerpts from resolutions passed by the Twelfth Assembly:

  • Resolution on theological education

“The LWF and its member churches must take steps to ensure theological education also takes account of different contexts and is open to all. Our contextual readings of the Bible must be connected to our theological identity. […] The Assembly calls upon the LWF Communion Office to develop and publish a strategy by 2020 for collaboration to provide greater access to theological education.”

  • Strategic priorities and church revival

“The Assembly calls upon the Council as it considers strategic priorities for the coming period, to create platforms for contextual deliberations, exchange and learning for churches facing change. This change is due to secularization, post-secular trends and other societal and demographic factors, requiring that priority should be given to theological, catechetical and missional revival-oriented program work based on issues of common concern.”

  • Affirming humanitarian response on behalf of those affected by the war in Syria and appealing for peace

“The Twelfth Assembly of the LWF “expresses its deep appreciation for all those involved in providing assistance to those affected throughout the region” and “calls upon the member churches and their related agencies to sustain and enhance the work of the LWF in response to the Syrian crisis, in order to meet the needs of those suffering and those forcibly displaced.”

  • The inclusion of gender justice in the LWF Constitution

“The Assembly calls upon the incoming LWF Council to recommend amending the LWF Constitution at the 13th LWF Assembly. This recommended amendment is to add the words ‘gender justice’ to Section III. Nature and Functions of the LWF Constitution (...).”

  • Documenting guidelines and binding practices

“The Assembly calls upon the LWF Council to analyze its governance structures and governance norms, with a view toward documenting the guidelines and binding practices. In particular, matters pertinent to the nomination and election of Council Members and the President should be made explicit.”

  • Calling for an analysis of the composition and design of LWF regions

“The Assembly calls upon the LWF Council to analyze the LWF’s governance structures to assess the appropriateness of the composition and design of LWF regions, and their relative presence on LWF Council, and publicize a report on the topic. In particular, the report should address whether the current structure remains equitable, given demographic shifts within the communion. The report responding to this matter is to be concluded and publicly available by 2020.”

  • Being church in context and its role in mission

“As churches in ongoing reformation we call on each member church of the LWF to rethink its being church in its context and its role in God’s mission. […] We call on LWF to continue and intensify its responsibility to convene, coordinate and enable mission cooperation and mutual accompaniment between different member churches, including their related agencies engaged in holistic mission.”

  • Israel-Palestine

“The Assembly reaffirms the efforts of the churches, the international community and all persons of good will toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict.  This Assembly, like previous assemblies, calls for an end to the now 50-year-long occupation, violence, political and religious extremism and any violation of human rights.”

  • Interreligious relations

“The persecution of people because of their faith is a uniquely challenging and urgent concern of the LWF and its member churches. The LWF strongly affirms freedom of religion or belief for everyone and advocates for those whose basic rights are violated.”

  • Religious persecution in Asia

“There are increased incidents of atrocities against the Christian communities in particular parts of Asia. [...] The Assembly urges the LWF Communion Office to study these issues and publish findings on instances of religious intolerance and persecution, especially expressed toward the Christian community and how churches are affected.”

  • Women in the ordained ministry

“The Assembly directs the LWF Communion Office to develop a written process for accompanying member churches in dialogue on women in the ordained ministry.”

  • Calling for a process to study experiences of women in ordained ministry

“While also acknowledging that not all member churches are at the same point on the journey towards women in ordained ministry - that some member churches are still moving toward full inclusion and participation of women - we are convinced that the scriptural witness, in its breadth and scope, honors the equality of all created in God’s image and recognizes the gifts of all in the same Spirit to those baptized into the new creation.”

  • Gender Justice Policy

“The Assembly commends the work done on the Gender Justice Policy, celebrates its positive reception and its translation into 23 languages thus far and urges the member churches to encourage their parishes to make Gender Justice a part of their curriculums.”

  • Sex education and elimination of sexual and gender-based violence

“The Assembly directs the LWF Communion Office and encourages member churches to focus on sexual education, and the elimination of sexual and gender-based violence, including domestic violence, rape, sexual coercion and sexual harassment, WITHIN our churches.”

  • Refugees, internally displaced persons and forced migration

“The Assembly commends the LWF member churches and LWF World Service for their long-standing work amongst and for refugees and displaced people regardless of religious affiliation.  [...] The Assembly commends countries that open their borders to receive refugees and displaced people. [...] The Assembly acknowledges the stress sometimes placed on host communities in the process of receiving new residents and providing for their well-being.”

  • Youth participation

 “The Assembly commends the Young Reformers’ Network in conveying the insights of the Reformation for the new generation. The Assembly urges the Council to continue to sustain this Network and expand it to include those preparing for leadership in the church.”

  • Climate change

“The Assembly urges that youth participation and representation at the COP [UN Conference of the Parties] meetings continue. The Assembly supports the continuation of the LWF Climate Network and its strengthening, including encouraging regional climate networks.”

  • Inequalities and resources

“The Assembly calls on the member churches and related organizations everywhere to stand up and demand fair redistribution of wealth and social protection, as a matter of justice and human rights for all.”

  • Sustainable Development Goals

“The Assembly affirms the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and calls upon all the member churches to intensify their education and work on the SDGs, develop concrete programs, to work on achieving the SDGs in their respective countries and engage governments and national or local organizations for implementation of SDGs.”

  • Commercialization and commodification of creation

“The Twelfth LWF Assembly is concerned that through carbon emission compensation, pollution is commodified. The Assembly recognizes current efforts as a transition, and calls for advocacy with corporations and countries for responsible and sustainable carbon emission efforts.”

  • Social protection in times of inequality

“As people of faith, the Assembly is deeply concerned by the growing inequalities and the impacts on the lives of people everywhere. The Assembly calls upon the Lutheran churches and their related organizations to explore their role and resources of diakonia in promoting just societies, where wealth is shared fairly for the good of all and social protection is guaranteed as the right of all – so that no one shall be left behind.”

  • Education not for sale

“Education is still inaccessible and unaffordable to many people around the world. The Assembly calls on the LWF and its member churches to develop and implement a program to resolve this education dilemma, especially in countries where there are gross inaccessibilities and financial constraints.”

  • Rethinking Sunday

“The Assembly recognizes that recent problems, such as secularization and regional circumstances where Christianity is not a majority, are challenges. The Assembly calls upon the member churches to rethink the meaning of Sunday and strengthen the holiness of this day.”

  • Explore renaming the LWF as a communion

“The self-understanding of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has changed through the years from a federation of autonomous churches toward a communion of churches. […] This current self-understanding implies mutual accountability, hermeneutical awareness as well as attention to and acceptance of the diversity in the Church of Jesus Christ.   For the many LWF member churches in a minority situation a renaming of the Federation as a Communion would have great impact.”

  • Supporting the participation of parents in LWF meetings

“In the LWF we are tackling many of the issues that concern gender justice, equity, education and the revival of the churches. In order to support parents in their engagement within the LWF and in order to model coherence between our public statements and our internal action, the  Assembly calls upon the LWF to support those with parenting responsibilities who hold staff and other positions within LWF by providing child care during LWF Assemblies and Council meetings, etc.”

  • Twelfth Assembly expression of gratitude

“The Twelfth Assembly of The Lutheran World Federation convened in Windhoek, Namibia expresses its deepest gratitude to the following distinguished persons, organizations and institutions for their indispensable contributions to the success of the Assembly and making it a fruitful, meaningful and important event in the life of the LWF and all the participants.”

 

Read Assembly Resolutions in this compilation