(LWI) – How is The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) following through on its commitment to meaningful youth leadership at the global and regional levels? This was a key question at the Youth Pre-Council gathering in Geneva, 8 June.
Meeting prior to the annual governing meeting of the LWF taking in Geneva 9-14 June, 10 delegates from LWF’s member churches discussed youth-led global initiatives, presented by LWF Program Executive for Youth Ms Savanna Sullivan. This included launching 2022 as the Year of Peace, initiatives for climate advocacy and revitalizing the Global Young Reformers’ Network (GYRN). The Council members also shared updates from their regions and affirmed the ongoing work to establish stronger links between the work carried out by youth throughout the communion and other structural leaders.
Meaningful participation and inclusion
While LWF’s commitment to meaningful participation of young people was affirmed, achieving the 20 percent quota was cited as a major challenge at the regional and grassroots levels, and that issues affecting young people were not taken seriously. “Even when there is youth participation, the young people don’t feel that open to express themselves,” noted Ms Sally Azar, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.
Also discussed were LWF’s global youth leadership programs and capacity building that include financial grants to empower young people as leaders in peace building and climate projects. Participants emphasized the need for churches to acknowledge young people’s capacity as both teachers and learners, and for the LWF to create spaces where they can continually mentor each other beyond the under-30 youth category.
This was the first time since 2019 that the youth Council members were meeting in-person due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The pandemic’s impact was discussed, including how to address the issue of mental health and questions around gender diversity. Samuel Alejandro Garcia Vidrio, Mexican Lutheran Church, spoke of the need for “intergenerational dialogue focusing on building compassion that leads to inclusion.”
The delegates also discussed preparations toward the Thirteenth Assembly in 2023 and the Stewards Program, which will be announced later in June. They also affirmed the open-call application process to take part in LWF’s youth programs, saying it generates greater awareness about the available possibilities in the communion.
Equity and justice are our calls in the gospel, and they go together in ensuring meaningful youth participation in the LWF
– LWF Youth Secretary Ms Savanna Sullivan
Sullivan thanked the delegates for their contribution and continued support to the Youth program work. “Equity and justice are our calls in the gospel, and they go together in ensuring meaningful youth participation in the LWF,” she noted.
The Youth will bring the Pre-Council discussions to the full Council meeting.
The LWF Council is the highest authority of the LWF between Assemblies. It consists of the President, the Chairperson of the Finance Committee, and 48 members from LWF member churches in seven regions. The current governing body was elected at the May 2017 Twelfth Assembly in Windhoek, Namibia. The 2022 meeting takes place, 9-14 June, at the Ecumenical Center in Geneva.