Lutherans deliberate environment, migration and other challenges facing Europe

The Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in the Slovak Republic (ECAC-SR) is to host a regional meeting to prepare Lutheran churches in Europe for the July 2010 Eleventh Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).

The Assembly will be held in Stuttgart, Germany, under the theme "Give Us Today Our Daily Bread".

Participants of the pre-Assembly consultation in Bratislava this week come from 35 LWF member churches in the region, as well as representatives from national committees, church networks, church-related agencies and LWF staff.

In addition to preparing delegates for the forthcoming LWF assembly, the meeting will also discuss some of the core issues to be deliberated at the Assembly, said Rev Dr Eva-Sibylle Vogel-Mfato, LWF area secretary for Europe at the Department for Mission and Development (DMD).

The Bratistlava consultation will take up such global issues as the environment, social engagement, diakonia and migration, seen from the perspective of the various regions of Europe.

Vogel-Mfato said these were some of the challenges "with which we in an increasingly united Europe will be more frequently confronted".

Participants will also explore how the European member churches can live in close fellowship with sister churches throughout the world. Europe, she noted, has a particularly important role to play on a "transcontinental level, for example, in the international diakonia carried out jointly with churches in the Global South".

"Even in Europe we can learn a great deal from the South about how to overcome social ills, as well as in the area of ecumenical dialogue and bearing living witness in the midst of divisions within church and society," said the Europe area secretary.

Vogel-Mfato pointed out that it is particularly important for consultation participants to approach these discussions as a means "of deepening their involvement in the communion and of playing an active role in shaping and nurturing it".

"The sense of joint responsibility for the LWF as a tightly-knit fellowship must be strengthened, for in this way, we also strengthen ourselves, including beyond the Assembly."

She said the preparatory consultation provided a new opportunity to take stock of what had been achieved since the preceding 2003 Assembly in the Canadian city of Winnipeg, as well as to evaluate and identify new challenges and tasks for the future.

LWF General Secretary Rev Dr Ishmael Noko will deliver the pre-assembly's opening address on Saturday evening, 13 March, on the topic "Expectations from the European Contribution to the Assembly, and to the Wider Lutheran Communion".

The keynote address will be presented by Rev Kilian Doerr from Sibiu/Hermannstadt, Romania on the topic "The Assembly Theme from the Perspective of Central and Eastern Europe in Transformation" on Sunday. Feedback from the respective sub-regions will follow.

Welcoming the pre-assembly to Bratislava, Bishop Dr Milos Klatik said it was a great honor for the ECAC-SR to host the LWF gathering.

"I believe that we all must be aware of our responsibility before God and before humanity. 'Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time' [Col 4:5]. As Christians, these words call upon us to proclaim the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ through our words and through our deeds," he said.

Prior to the preparatory consultation, youth and women’s meetings are also planned.

The LWF has 43 member churches in Europe representing around 37.2 million people.