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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 182,077 baptized members in 624 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches, and the World Council of Churches.

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From National Office of the ELCIC


Winnipeg, May 28, 2003 (ELCIC) -- Clarence Yahnke of Ridgeville, Manitoba, took a walk in the woods last winter on a special mission: The semi-retired cattle farmer needed to find some 122 meters of white birch logs to build nine large, rustic candle holders for use this summer at an international gathering of Lutherans in Winnipeg.

"I had to find the correct wood,"’ said Yahnke, 66, recalling his search near South Junction with a local landowner. "We went traipsing through the snow until we got the logs. You try and pick and match dimensions. It's a fair bit of work."

Each one of Yahnke’s finished products stands about 1.2 meters high, with four log posts and crisscrossing supports, held together with decking screws. A top platform measures 50 X 50 cm and holds a 110cm- tall candle, from Slovenia, that is decorated with the logo for the Tenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). The Assembly will meet July 21-31 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, under the theme "For the Healing of the World." Hosting the event will be the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. (ELCIC).

Founded in Sweden in 1947, the LWF represents nearly 95 per cent of the world’s 65.4 million Lutherans through 136 member churches in 75 countries. The LWF, headquartered in Geneva, acts on behalf of its members in mission and development work, which involves human rights, international relief and ecumenical matters.

The assembly is the LWF’s ultimate decision-making body. Held every six years, the LWF assembly was last staged in Hong Kong in 1997. The Winnipeg assembly is expected to attract 1400 Lutherans from member churches around the world to worship, celebrate and make decisions about the future direction of the LWF.

It is the first time the event has ever occurred in Canada, a fact not lost on Yahnke, who is a member of Zion Lutheran Church in Friedenstahl, Manitoba. "It’s Manitoba Birch and I know people from overseas are always impressed with how much natural wood we have here," said Yahnke who likes to "tinker" in the workshop. "And the pieces are kept whole and basically unfinished (to symbolize) the healing of everything."

Known for his wood-working skills, Yahnke had been asked by local organizers of the Assembly to construct the candle holders, based on a sketch. Countless hours and two prototypes later, Yahnke completed the clean-and-white candle holders 10 days before Easter.

As to his role in providing a local touch to the historic gathering, Yahnke is modest. "I don’t know, some people think it's great," said Yahnke who also has been a bus driver for 32 years for the Borderline School Division. "(But) if it turns out good, it's good for the Assembly ... and I just like doing (carpentry) work like that."

Yahnke’s candle-holders will return post-Assembly in August for use in nine Manitoba Lutheran congregations.

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