CHENNAI, India - The President of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Bishop emeritus Dr Christian Krause has hailed the contribution of the Indian Lutheran churches in promoting a relevant and effective model of ecumenism both locally and globally.
The involvement by the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India (UELCI) in the liberation of Dalits in India has provided the country and global church with a new agenda and new theology of mission, Krause said in his address during the 75-year "Festival of Faith" jubilee celebration of both the UELCI and Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute in Chennai, India. The UELCI comprises ten Lutheran churches, nine of which belong to the LWF.
Krause, chief guest during the 21-27 November 2002 commemoration, said the journey of both institutions for the past 78 years, was reason enough to celebrate God's faithfulness as well as that of the churches.
The week-long activities focused on the theme "Great is Thy Faithfulness," and included thanksgiving worship services, Bible studies, revival meetings, exhibitions, book releases, youth and women's conferences. LWF Vice-President and former UELCI Executive Secretary, Rev. Dr Prasanna Kumari was among church leaders who addressed the participants. Delegates to the festivities were drawn from all of the UELCI member churches, mission boards and agencies.
A UELCI women's conference during the festival focused on the LWF Tenth Assembly theme, "For the Healing of the World." Speaking at the meeting, Ms Vidya Rani, women desk secretary and South Asian regional coordinator, said the region's churches could contribute something concrete to the theme. Affirming women's struggles by naming the issues with which they grapple would influence the July 2003 Assembly process in Winnipeg, Canada, she noted.
The festival's national youth conference deliberated on "Dalit Liberation." UELCI youth committed themselves to a new theological approach and struggle for the liberation of the Dalit people within and outside the church.
Significant at Gurukul's jubilee festivities was the release of three books namely The Gurukul Daily Devotion, The Gurukul Book of Worship and Hymns and The Indian Lutheran Book of Worship. The LWF president presented a book, Faith Meets Faiths - Journey of the Faith of the UELCI co-authored by outgoing UELCI Executive Secretary, Dr Kunchala Rajaratnam and his successor Rev. Chandran Paul Martin.
(Contributed by Rev. Dr Mani Chacko, principal, Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute.)
(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund (Sweden), the LWF now has 136 member churches in 76 countries representing over 61.7 million of the 65.4 million Lutherans worldwide. The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas of common interest such as ecumenical relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication, and the various aspects of mission and development work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.)
By Albert H. Lee