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Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Lutheran World Federation Assembly in Stuttgart

From 20 - 27 July, Lutherans from around the world will gather in Stuttgart for the 11th Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).  I have been asked to be one of the representatives of the Anglican Communion at the Assembly, along with Archbishop Fred Hiltz, the Primate of Canada, and the Revd Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, the Director of Unity, Faith and Order of the Anglican Communion. I was also an Anglican delegate to a previous Assembly in 1997 in Hong Kong.

Archbishop Rowan Williams will pay a special visit to the Assembly on 22 July to give a keynote address. The Archbishop will also have brief meeting with members of our parishes in Stuttgart and Heidelberg as well as Episcopalians from Karlsruhe.

The Assembly of the LWF is every 6 or 7 years and brings together delegates from over 140 member Churches. All the Lutheran Churches which have signed the Porvoo Agreement, and which are in communion with the Church of England are members. (Many other Anglican provinces have agreements of communion with other Lutheran Churches besides, such as the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada). The Church of England also has close links, through the Meissen Agreement, with the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD), which brings together 22 Lutheran, Reformed and United regional Churches. The Lutheran Churches of EKD are members of the LWF. I look forward to meeting many Lutheran colleagues with whom we collaborate very closely in this Diocese in Europe.

The theme of the Assembly is "Give us this day our daily bread". This petition from the Lord’s Prayer has been chosen to challenge Lutherans to define prophetic responses to all injustice that threatens life in abundance: exclusion, poverty, lack of safe water, HIV and AIDS, neoliberal globalization, interreligious conflict and human rights violations.

A significant ecumenical action will take place during the week. The Lutherans will ask for forgiveness, first from God, and then from Mennonite brothers and sisters from the Anabaptist tradition. The Lutheran reformers, Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon, gave theological support to a violent 16th century persecution of Anabaptists. These actions remain vivid in Anabaptist memory. A study commission has enabled Lutherans to come to terms with this painful history, and this world body will now ask forgiveness of their Anabaptist sisters and brothers. The LWF will pray “that God may grant to our communities a healing of our memories and reconciliation.”

The website of the LWF Assembly is here.
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