LWF European Church Leadership Consultation in Norway

General Bishop Miloš Klátik was attended at this year LWF European Church Leadership Consultation, which was held in norwegian city Trondheim since 11th to 14th May, 2015. Our church also represented Secretary for Foreign Affairs Samuel Miško.

LWF Church Leadership Consultation in Europe was focused on the 2017 LWF 12th Assembly theme: “Liberated by God’s Grace.” Church of Norway and the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church of Norway jointly hosted the conference. The 80 participants in this year’s meeting included heads of churches and synods, ecumenical officers, theological educators, and women and youth coordinators from the 40 LWF member churches in Europe. The regional LWF gathering helped the wider church leadership to gain understanding about LWF’s present work and deepen motivation to take up opportunities for participating more broadly.

At the opening eucharistic service with Holy Supper at the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim served Presiding Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien, who is LWF Vice-President for the Nordic region. LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge delivered greetings. He provided orientation for the 500th Reformation anniversary in 2017 and the Twelfth Assembly to be held the same year in Namibia, Windhoek.

What does it mean „liberated by God´s grace“ for Lutheran churches and religious societies in Europe? How do the region´s experiences and challenges provide new perspectives for church engagement in community life and in the care for creation? It was some of the questions which discussed member churches LWF. Theme of the 12th Assembly provide space for reflection on specific and relevant topics related to society and to challenges on Christian witness in present.

Plenary and group discussions at the conference were devoted questions, how to help and include advocacy for boat people on the Mediterranean Sea, accompanying the afflicted in the Ukraine crisis and other conflict areas, solidarity with people affected by calamities such as the earthquake in Nepal, and support to refugees across the world. The four-day gathering also featured an intergenerational dialogue on climate justice.

“From what have we been liberated and how do we use that freedom?” - German, Norwegian and Polish panelists shared stories of how they have seen liberation expressed through various experiences of individual and communal salvation. Bishop Jerzy Samiec, Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland,in his presentation recounted the dramatic changes in church life before and after the fall of communism. Liberation brought great wealth to some but many suffer from poverty and unemployment. Younger generations have done much to broaden the horizons of those who grew up behind the Iron Curtain but they face pressures to focus on material success. “Of course we had problems under communism. Now we have freedom, and we have to try and reach the people and see how they need our church.” said Samiec.

Bishop Jan Janssen, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oldenburg, concluded with an outward-looking ecumenical perspective on liberation. Describing relationships among different traditions in Germany that extend to partners in Ghana and Togo, he said,“The seed of the gospel has grown although sometimes it has seen different flowers than those [from] our own traditions. A diversity of species in creation and many different languages of faith are gifts from the creative spirit of God who liberates us to come together in reconciled diversity.”

In a resolution at the end of the LWF European Church Leadership Consultation (ECLC) in Trondheim, representatives of the 40 LWF churches in the region urged the European governments and European Union to establish a program to search and rescue the refugees in the whole Mediterranean Sea. The Lutheran church leaders also called for the creation of safe passage corridors for refugees especially from countries like Syria and Iraq. A system for a more just distribution of refugees within Europe should also be developed, they said. They called upon other churches in the region to support “these urgent requests to their governments.” This year alone, more than 36,000 migrants and refugees crossed the Mediterranean Sea by boat into Southern Europe according to the United Nations refugee agency. However 1,600 lost their lives while making this journey.

Source: www.lutheranworld.org/news

Samuel Miško, secretary for foreign relations, ausland@ecav.sk | 2.6.2015

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