A NEWS RELEASE
From Lutheran World Information
LUND, Sweden/GENEVA, 20 March 2007 (LWI) - The General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko has encouraged the LWF member churches to dialogue on the issues of marriage, family and sexuality in an inclusive manner in order to avoid making it a church-dividing issue.
Noko gave the cautionary note during a press conference at the beginning of a eight-day event including the LWF Council Meeting, a Church Leadership Consultation and celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the LWF taking place in Lund, Sweden from 20 to 27 March 2007.
Nearly 500 participants including 105 church leaders from around the world are expected at the LWF events hosted by the Church of Sweden and its Diocese of Lund. "Living in Communion in the World Today" is the theme of the LWF Council meeting and its related church leadership consultation and anniversary celebrations.
Responding to a question on the issue of polygamy, Noko emphasized the need to also focus on the broader aspects of marriage and family, saying polygamy was one of the concerns that can be taken up again in a communion-wide discussion. The aim of the LWF task force appointed by the LWF Council in 2004 is not to give a Lutheran position on the issue of marriage, family and sexuality, but to provide guidelines on how the member churches can deal with discussion around this issue, the general secretary stressed.
The task force will present to this year's Council a report titled "The Proposed Guidelines and Processes for Respectful Dialogue" to help member churches discuss the changing realities in relation to marriage, family and sexuality in the world today.
Welcoming the journalists on behalf of the LWF Council host church, the Church of Sweden, Bishop Christina Odenberg of the Diocese of Lund, pointed out that there were no women bishops at the LWF’s founding Assembly in 1947, while around 20 women bishops and presidents are expected at this year’ 60th anniversary celebrations.
Odenberg was appointed Bishop of Lund in June 1997 becoming the first Lutheran woman bishop in Sweden. The Swedish church - the largest LWF member church - national church, therefore welcomed the idea of hosting other Lutherans from all over the world to “connect with its global root” she added.
For Bishop Victoria Cortez Rodriguez, vice president of the LWF’s Latin American and Caribbean region, and head of the Nicaraguan Lutheran Church of Faith and Hope, being "in communion was our way of sharing our faith although there was a lot of diversity in the Lutheran communion from country to country and from continent to continent."
Noko pointed out that the 1947 formation of the LWF immediately after World War II was a time for healing because Europe was in shambles after the war, inflation was high and Africa was not represented. "There is still need to assume the responsibility to bring about healing in living the faith in our communion," he said.
The LWF 11th Assembly to be held in Stuttgart Germany in 2010, will be a turning point from a stand-alone stance to that of fostering communion and facing towards each other, Noko added (559 words).
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An estimated 500 people including over 100 church leaders are attending this year’s Council meeting, church leadership consultation and the LWF 60th anniversary celebrations. Also attending are officials from LWF partner organizations, invited guests, stewards, interpreters and translators, LWF staff and co-opted staff, and participants in the three-year LWF international training program for young communicators. The Council is the governing body meeting between Assemblies held every six years and was last appointed at the July 2003 Tenth Assembly in Winnipeg, Canada. It comprises the President, Treasurer and 48 persons elected by the Assembly. Other members include advisors, lay and ordained persons, representing the different LWF regions.
The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF now has 140 member churches in 78 countries all over the world representing nearly 66.7 million Christians.
The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas of common interest such as ecumenical and interfaith relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication, and the various aspects of mission and development work.
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Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the LWF’s information service. Unless specifically noted, material presented does not represent positions or opinions of the LWF or of its various units.
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