LWF 11th Assembly Concludes with 'Message' to Churches

The highest legislative body of the Lutheran World Federation closed its eight-day meeting Tuesday with a "message" to the 145 church bodies in 79 countries that make up the global Lutheran communion.

Based on the theme of the LWF 11th Assembly, "Give Us Today Our Daily Bread," the petition reminds Christians that they should give thanks to God, give the Gospel message to others, give their knowledge and material goods to those in need, and care for the environment so that future generations "may enjoy the fruits of creation and lead wholesome lives."

"True humanity," the messages states, is found in receiving and giving.

And the issues of "today" include concern for the world's food supply, global climate change, the plight of indigenous people, and the effects of HIV/AIDS, asserts the LWF message.

"The message from this Assembly, which grew out of the petition, 'Give Us Today Our Daily Bread,' is that we are not asking for bread alone," LWF's outgoing president, Bishop Mark S. Hanson, explained Tuesday at the closing press conference of the 11th Assembly.

"[W]e are praying for everything that people need to sustain life each day," said Hanson.

Since last Tuesday, LWF's highest decision-making body, which normally convenes every six years, gathered with the alleviation of hunger as its focus. As they discussed more, delegates started to speak of "daily bread" in terms of food, environment, illegitimate debt, climate change and gender justice.

Hanson, who completed his term as LWF President at the close of the 11th Assembly, summed up the assembly's conclusion in saying, "To have all that we collectively need does not mean only having food in our stomachs but also that there will be justice for all people and sustainability of our environment."

Before the conclusion of their meeting, the 11th Assembly passed a number of related resolutions, including ones denouncing human trafficking, committing LWF members to people's right to food, urging inclusion of socially disadvantaged groups, committing LWF members to actions to protect the globe, and urging global reduction in military spending, among others.

The 11th Assembly also adopted resolutions detailing "principles of inclusive representation" and urging member churches to re-commit to "genuine, practical and effective implementation" of LWF policies and decision regarding the full participation of women in the life of the church – and of the LWF communion – as well as in society.

"We anticipate a time when we no longer need to speak about such issues each day," the assembly's message states.

With over 70 million members, LWF is the world's largest communion of Lutheran churches, spanning across some 79 countries.

Assembly participants this past week reportedly include 418 delegates from the 138 full LWF member churches around the world. Others attending are representatives from associate member churches, observers from recognized congregations and councils, advisers from LWF national committees and related agencies, interpreters and translators, and ecumenical guests and visitors, among others.