A NEWS RELEASE
From National Office of the ELCIC
Winnipeg, June 9, 2003 (ELCIC) -- Next month, a caravan of camper trailers will leave British Columbia and travel eastward across the Prairies, picking up others along the way, until it arrives in Winnipeg at one of the largest religious gatherings ever held in the city.
The trailers contain retirees, all of them Lutherans headed to the Tenth Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Assembly July 21-31 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.
They’re part of a small army of volunteers without which the LWF Assembly and over 1,000 participants from around the world could not function.
Volunteers will billet guests, ferry people to and from airports, manage traffic, help with security, act as translators and perform dozens of other tasks to make the Lutheran gathering a success.
It’s a testimony to the Lutheran spirit of service and co-operation, said Rhonda Lorch, local committee convener for the assembly
"This is an understanding of stewardship that North American Lutherans have," Lorch said.
Fully 25 per cent of the 420 volunteers who have signed up so far are from the United States, responding to requests for assistance from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), which is hosting the event. It is the first time the assembly has ever been held in Canada and only the second time in North America.
While the assembly itself is Lutheran, the volunteer effort for the event is truly ecumenical. The ELCIC’s Anglican partners will be working shoulder to shoulder with Lutherans during the event. Members of other denominations - Roman Catholic, United Church, Mennonite - are also assisting.
The response from the Winnipeg church community has overwhelmed LWF officials in Geneva, said volunteer co-ordinator Ron Heimbecker.
"They’ve never seen volunteers like this at any of their previous assemblies," Heimbecker said. "They’re just amazed at what we’re doing."
The theme of the assembly is "For the Healing of the World." The event will attract delegates from the 136 LWF member churches in 76 countries. Founded in Sweden in 1947, the LWF represents over 90 per cent of the 65.4 million Lutherans worldwide.
More information is available on the LWF Assembly website at http://www.lwf-assembly.org To apply for media accreditation to the assembly and receive the advance documentation package, contact Janet Bond-Nash, in the Office for Communication Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.