Ecumenism and reconciliation were top priorities at the opening ceremony of the 2005 Lutheran World Federation Council Meeting in Jerusalem.
We have come to Bethlehem to listen, to witness, to challenge and to pray for a lasting and just peace, Bishop Mark S. Hanson, president of the Federation, told the 170 participants on Tuesday. May the cries for peace and justice provoke confession, repentance and become a prelude to reconciliation.
Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), which hosted the meeting, also encouraged council members to be reconciled to God and to one another during the opening Eucharistic service.
There can be no peace without justice and no justice without forgiveness, Younan said, according to an LWF news release. Because we believe so strongly that God is calling us, the local expression of the worldwide Lutheran communion to embody this vital ministry at this opportune time here.
The Lutheran World Federation Council meets annually on the years between the larger LWF assemblies. The Council which consists of ordained and lay persons, women, men and youth is responsible for the business of the Federation.
Hanson, who also serves as the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, stressed that the assembly should also be a time of renewal and fellowship.
Therefore, we are so bold as to claim there is joy and celebration in the ministry of reconciliation. May we as the LWF Council experience that joy as we renew our commitment to a ministry of reconciliation for Jerusalem and to the ends of the earth, said Hanson.
The 2005 Council, which follows the theme, The Church: Called to a Ministry of Reconciliation, officially began today and ends on Sept. 6.