Youth must be as strongly rooted in the church as life-giving trees
Indian young reformer plants historic tree at Wittenberg Luther Garden
WITTENBERG, Germany/GENEVA, 28 August 2015 (LWI) – Youth delegates from Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches across the world witnessed the first young adult to plant a LWF member-church tree at the Luther Garden in Wittenberg, Germany.
Benison Kachhap from the Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chotanagpur and Assam (GELC), India, planted the 263rd tree in the garden established in 2008 by the LWF in collaboration with the City of Wittenberg as a living monument of the Reformation. Fellow youth from 80 LWF member churches, currently in the city for a two-week Global Young Reformers workshop, applauded as the 27-year-old watered the tree dedicated by GELC Bishop Johan Dang.
“This is a life-changing moment. That I, a young Lutheran from India, am here today representing the Reformation that Luther started in Wittenberg in the 16th century,” Kachhap said, following the 27 August event.
He likened care for trees in a garden to nurturing youth in the church. “When we are strongly rooted, then we can grow and serve our churches. Like plants that need good ground and soil to grow, young people too need the church to be a place where we can grow in order for the church to be sustainable,” he said.
Kachhap expressed gratitude to the GELC leadership for entrusting one of its youth members with the responsibility of planting the church’s tree in the Luther Garden. “As a symbol of life, a tree is not planted for its own sake. It provides shade to those who need it, fruit and shelter. But it needs care to grow so that it can serve others. In a similar way, youth should be nurtured to serve the church for the sake of the church itself,” he added.
Aiming for 500 trees by 2017
Rev. Hans Kasch, director of the LWF Center in Wittenberg, which manages the project with the city, presided at a prayer service for the tree dedication. He emphasized the global and ecumenical profile of the garden, which targets the planting of 500 trees by 31 October 2017. Some 80 countries from around the world are thus far represented in the trees planted since January 2009.
The dedication provided opportunity for the young reformers to tour the garden where leaders of Lutheran and other churches, representatives of the LWF and other Christian World Communions have planted Reformation trees.
The Wittenberg workshop includes discussion on climate justice, an LWF advocacy area in which youth have played an important role representing the LWF at a number of high level meetings and initiating the global Fast for the Climate campaign.
Kasch called on the young reformers to encourage churches that have not yet participated in the project to do so. Each church that plants a tree in the Luther Garden is required to plant a matching one in their respective home country.
A member church of the LWF since 1947, GELC is one of the 11 Lutheran churches in India.