Serving the global communion; sixteen ELCIC members participate in LWF Assembly

On Wednesday, September 13, the Thirteenth Assembly of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) began from Kraków, Poland under the theme One Body, One Spirit, One Hope.

In attendance at the week-long gathering are 16 members from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

With roles varying from delegates, advisors, communication team members, presenters, as well as committee chair and key member of the worship planning committee, ELCIC members at the international event served many important roles among the 355 delegates and over 1,000 participants. Those in attendance at Poland’s ICE Conference Centre joined in song at opening worship, while sharing communion with 150 member churches from 99 countries around the world.

The Thirteenth Assembly of the LWF was preceded by the pre-Assemblies and is not only celebrating the communion and contexts of member churches, but also carrying out the official functions of the Assembly.

One such function was the selection of a new president of the LWF, to serve as the presiding officer of the assembly, the council and the executive committee. With Rev. Dr. Panti Filibus Musa (Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria) having fulfilled his term, a new president, Henrik Stubkjaer (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark) was elected. Serving as chair the assembly nominating committee, Synod of Alberta and the Territories Bishop Larry Kochendorfer is excited to continue exploring the assembly’s theme. 

“I am hoping to experience and be transformed through an even deeper and wider experience of our Lutheran communion,” Bishop Kochendorfer said. “I am looking to dig deeper into its vast and varied contexts, realities, challenges and opportunities, as well as the many impactful resolutions and actions living out of the Assembly theme: One Body, One Spirit, One Hope.”

Members representing the ELCIC at the Assembly were asked the following question: 

“What are you hoping to come away with from the Assembly?”

Most in attendance took time to provide a response. Those answers are as follows:

“I’m hoping to gain a better understanding of the role that the LWF plays globally, and the impact that our individual churches have in achieving the federations priorities. I’m excited to learn more about our partner churches as well and what it means to be a Lutheran in each of our different contexts.” – Sydney Marshall, steward

“My hope for this Assembly is that we are faithful stewards of the theme. That we continue as the one body of Christ, using the gifts and talents of the Holy Spirit to that we can affect the change we want.” – Celly Manirakoze, youth delegate

“I hope to leave the 13th Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation with a better understanding of the breadth of our Lutheran Communion, as well as an experience of the rich ecumenism that shapes our Lutheran identity. To see the richly diverse threads that weave together our Lutheran tapestry.” – Rev. Adam Snook, Assistant to the Bishop in the Eastern Synod, serving as co-opted communications team member

“I’m hoping to be inspired by the theme One Body, One Spirit, One Hope and to come back and share that inspiration with our church. I am also looking for ways we can participate in and support the work of the LWF.” – ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson, advisor

“I hope to come away with a deeper appreciation for a reconciled diversity that characterizes unity among Lutherans, and beyond. So far so good!” – Rev. Martin Malina, visitor

“I am hoping to learn more about the various forms of theological education that are being developed globally and how the ELCIC can both contribute to and learn from that.” – Rev. Dr. Kayko Driedger Hesslein, presenter

“I’m honoured to be here with a delegation of six from CLWR’s staff and Board who have come to listen, learn and be challenged, and to share our story. My prayer for this assembly is a renewed commitment to global unity and solidarity in the service of a wounded world, including strengthened collaboration between CLWR and LWF’s World Service, one of the largest faith-based humanitarian actors worldwide.” – Rev. Dr Karin Achtelstetter, Executive Director, CLWR, advisor

“After two days of the Assembly, I already know I will be coming away with a joyful encounter with the Spirit and a renewed hope for the church and the world. Emmanuel, God is with us. The church is alive!” – Rev. Brooklynn Lane, member of the worship planning committee

“I have learned so much about the work of the LWF and our global communion of churches through my participation at what is now my third LWF Assembly. Participating in this way is also one way I can contribute back to this work.” – Trina Gallop, ELCIC assistant to the national bishop / director of communication and resource generation, serving as co-opted communications staff participating on the writing team

“As a registered visitor, I came to the assembly looking to get a sense of where other Lutheran churches around the world “are at” regarding their life, mission, vitality, spirituality. Two days in, after meeting some fascinating people, and listening to various speakers during the sessions and plenaries, I am getting that sense! Churches around the world are at similar places as the Canadian church I know. Declining numerically, yes. Listening to where Christ continues to call and lead, yes. Acknowledging and speaking up in difficult contexts, yes. But at the same time, hopeful, spirited, warm hearted, loving, and God-loving. What great new friends I’ve been making! Gives me hope, fills my heart with joy, renews my mind and soul. I’m grateful!” – Rev. David Malina, visitor

“I am hoping to come away from Assembly feeling small. The world is big. Creation is big. God is big. It is a precious and humbling experience to know that I am small, but I am not alone. Our global community lives in diverse contexts, yet we have a shared experience in faith that transcends borders in expansive intimacy with the Divine. We are accountable to and for each other in the midst. Where we differ, we look each other in the eyes and aim to truly see each other. Where we align, we embrace and advance in good company for bold action. We are enriched by gathering, by wrestling with our conceptualization of our faith, and by renewing our commitment to courage, integrity, and servant leadership to our local and global cohort.”- Katarina Kuhnert, official presenter and One Hope plenary respondent