Three Pre-Assemblies offer spaces to shape priorities and equip delegates for meaningful participation
(LWI) - Three Pre-Assembly gatherings of women, men and young people are taking place in Poland over the coming days, ahead of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Thirteenth Assembly in Krakow next week. The goals are to share experiences from across the regions, shape priorities and equip delegates for meaningful participation in the 13 to 19 September Assembly.
Both the women’s and the youth Pre-Assemblies kick off on Friday, the former in the city of Wroclaw, north-west of Krakow and the latter in the southern town of Wisla, close to the border with Slovakia. For many of the young participants, aged between 18 and 30, it will be their first opportunity to take part in a global gathering of Lutheran leaders, so time will be spent “building community, building confidence and learning about the way an Assembly works,” says Savanna Sullivan, LWF’s Program Executive for Youth.
Your unique voice, your new perspectives, new energy and experience of faith are important to God and [….] to this organization.
- Savanna Sullivan, LWF Program Executive for Youth
Sullivan notes that the youth Pre-Assembly will feature a practice Assembly session, alongside worship, bible study and workshops on a variety of topics from climate action and peace building to prayer life. It includes the participation of dozens of stewards, who will be on hand to support the smooth running of events in Krakow, an opportunity she describes as a “unique occasion for volunteerism and leadership development.”
“I want youth to hear that needing to learn does not mean you are less qualified for leadership,” Sullivan emphasizes. “You may be new to this, but your unique voice, your new perspectives, new energy and experience of faith are important to God and they are important to this organization. We are so grateful for the time, wisdom and gifts that you are offering for this major event in the life of the LWF,” she adds.
Anniversary of Gender Justice Policy
In Wroclaw, women leaders from the LWF’s seven regions will be “discussing shared challenges, engaging in theological reflection and building a common voice to take to the Assembly,” says Rev. Dr Marcia Blasi, Program Executive for Gender Justice and Women’s Empowerment. She notes that the COVID-19 pandemic “has changed all of us,” so the Pre-Assembly will mark a moment “to remember, but also to sing, to laugh and support each other as we reflect on the theme ‘One Body, One Spirit, One Hope’ from a women’s perspective.”
Blasi notes that this year marks the 10th anniversary of the approval of LWF’s Gender Justice Policy, so delegates will discuss further steps to implement this in their own churches and national or regional contexts. Participants are invited to learn from each other and connect their experiences of responding to gender-based violence, poverty, discrimination and the need to strengthen theological education and ordained ministry. “Coming to the Assembly is both a joy and a responsibility,” Blasi adds, “because we don’t come just for ourselves, but as part of a wider circle of Lutheran women and every single voice is important.”
First men’s Pre-Assembly
On 11 September, for the first time in LWF’s history, a men’s Pre-Assembly will also take place in Krakow, providing participants with a space to explore how the theme of the Assembly resonates with them and their experience of church leadership. Rev. Dr Sivin Kit, director of LWF’s Department for Theology, Mission and Justice, says the gathering of men only is “an opportunity for them to reflect together on the notion of power within and outside of the church. Is power exercised in ways that dominate and divide, or it is the kind of power that heals and serves others?”
Kit notes that on the following day, there will also be a first-time joint gathering of participants from the youth, women and men’s Pre-Assemblies. “I’m excited to see the inspiration, challenges and synergy that this will bring,” he says. His message to delegates is “Come, just as you are and be ready to be changed, to challenge each other and expand our horizons. The men’s Pre-Assembly is a space to do that, and I pray that it will also be a holy ground for us to encounter God and one another, so that we can return home ready to be a blessing to all around us.”