“Hunger is not God’s fault; it’s our fault,” said The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) President Bishop Mark S. Hanson at the opening press conference of the federation’s Eleventh Assembly. Introducing the Assembly’s theme, “Give Us Today Our Daily Bread,” the president said, “If people lack what they need for daily life, it is because we have failed to ensure that the good things of God’s creation are justly and equitably distributed to all.”
Hanson brought the theme of hunger close to home when he said that even among Assembly delegates there were some who know what it means to not have enough food. “So we are not talking about this subject in the abstract … but in the context of our lived experiences.” Hunger, though, does not refer only to the absence of food. “There are also those who hunger for peace in the midst of warfare,” he said. “There are those who hunger for human rights. They are marginalised because of HIV/AIDS, or because they are first-nation people, or because of their gender or generation.”
In Nicaragua the theme of hunger is fundamental, said Dr Victoria Cortez Rodríguez, Bishop of The Nicaraguan Lutheran Church of Faith and Hope. “We have people in our country who live each day and go to bed hungry.” Reinforcing the theme introduced by the LWF president, Bishop Cortez Rodríguez said that “poverty did not come from God … God created enough for everyone.” The people of God are responsible to care for each other and to treat every person with dignity “because every person was created by God.”
“Like Daylight and Dark”
Over the past 58 years the LWF has changed in ways that cannot be measured, said LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko. In 1952 the Second LWF Assembly was held in Hannover, Germany. Contrasting that Assembly with this one, he said, “There was hardly a Roman Catholic at that Assembly; nobody represented the Reformed Churches and there were no Mennonites.” He also pointed out that at the last Assembly held in Germany, women had virtually no voice, indigenous people “were not part of the imagination of our people at that time” and Africans came not as voting members but only as official visitors.
Noko further pointed out how the character and ecumenical nature of the LWF has changed over those 58 years, noting in particular the inclusion of Reformed Churches in the federation’s membership. The difference between the LWF of 1952 and the LWF of 2010 is “like daylight and dark,” the general secretary said. “The meeting here is a landmark in many ways.”
The issue of same-sex partnerships is unlikely to be a major point of discussion at this Assembly. The general secretary said that, as a result of a decision of the 2007 LWF Council meeting in Lund, Sweden, member churches are discussing issues relating to marriage, family and sexuality. “What might appear to be tension between some churches is simply the expression of diverse views on these issues.”
The general secretary said that the LWF has given itself ample time – from 2007 to 2012 – to converse and reflect on these matters. He promised that his report would update the Assembly on progress.
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See the Assembly Web site for more information and resources including the theme video for downloading and other video reflections; news stories, features, photos and blog feeds; the handbook, Assembly Updates and Study Materials: www.lwf-assembly.org
The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is meeting for its Eleventh Assembly, July 20-27, 2010, in Stuttgart, Germany. Assemblies take place every seven years. The last assembly in 2003 was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and was hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 152,500 baptized members in 607 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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