Stronger engagement makes the Lutheran communion tangible

Rev. Dr Martin Junge delivers his report to Council. Photo: LWF/Helen Putsman
Rev. Dr Martin Junge delivers his report to Council. Photo: LWF/Helen Putsman

General Secretary Junge’s report to Council

GENEVA, 18 June 2015 (LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) must continue to grow in its dynamic engagement that has enabled Lutherans to serve millions worldwide and deepen relationships that make the communion tangible, LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge has urged.

Delivering his report to the Council, the LWF’s governing body between assemblies, on the opening day of its 18-22 June meeting in Geneva, Junge said there was no reason for the LWF to pause in its growth.

“Because we are seeing millions of eyes looking to the LWF as a source of hope and empowerment, there is no reason for us to turn our back on them while becoming occupied with ourselves,” Junge said.

In his wide-ranging report on LWF’s work over the last one year, the general secretary offered highlights from the different activities that affirmed the communion’s vibrant witness in the world. He said many churches face the challenge of providing theological education for lay people and pastors in changing realities and contexts, thus calling for innovative approaches.

Junge noted that during his extensive travels to visit member churches, he had encountered many individuals, scholarship holders, volunteers and church leaders whose encounters with LWF were life-changing and faith-growing experiences.

“The LWF adds something very fundamental to the way of being a believer, and the way of being the church. The LWF offers a dimension, which churches and people on their own wouldn’t be able to see and grasp,” he emphasized.

Growing mutuality

On LWF’s humanitarian aid and long-term development work, Junge said that service to refugees and those in crisis in countries such as South Sudan, Syria and the Central African Republic had touched 2 million lives, an 80 percent increase over two years. Collaboration has increased with longstanding partners, notably the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and there are new agreements with organizations such as the Islamic Relief Worldwide.

During this time of growing service, the Lutheran communion has supported capacity training and development programs for member churches and LWF-supported projects in 54 member churches.

There is vitality in the communion, for which Lutherans must thank God, Junge said. “How else can one explain the growing mutuality between member churches, their working together to serve refugees, the displaced and marginalized?” he asked.

Reformation anniversary

The general secretary’s report also focused on activities related to the 500th Reformation anniversary and the Twelfth Assembly. H mentioned the ongoing “Women on the Move” initiative celebrating women’s contribution to the Reformation; and the Global Young Reformers’ Network and its international conference this August.

He thanked LWF’s ecumenical partners for the ongoing collaboration in bilateral dialogues and for supporting “LWF’s commitment to approach the Reformation anniversary with a sense of ‘ecumenical accountability.’”.

Challenges and moving forward

Still, there are financial and relationships-based challenges that the LWF must continue to deal with, Junge said. Referring to the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem, he reported a much improved financial situation. He stressed the need to proactively address the financial market volatility that threatens LWF’s sustainability.

Junge emphasized the need to continue envisioning vitality in the Lutheran communion, despite challenges along the way. “Because we have journeyed thus far and continue to grow and move dynamically every day, step by step, there is no reason to press the pause button now,” he added.

One of the documents that the Council will discuss this week is the “The Self-Understanding of the Lutheran Communion,” which the general secretary also mentioned in his report.

 

Council 2015: more information