Africa LWF Pre-Assembly 2017

Africa LWF Pre-Assembly delegates – Johannesburg, South Africa                                                   (Photo: LUCSA Communications)

Dear friends,

In the month of May some 1200 delegates from 145 member churches representing 74 million Christians in 98 countries will gather in Windhoek, Namibia for the Twelfth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation.

The Assembly will gather around the central theme, Liberated by God’s Grace and structure its work around three sub-themes:  Salvation – Not for sale, Human beings – Not for sale and Creation – Not for sale.

The three host churches for the assembly are the German Evangelical Lutheran Church (GELC) with some 5000 members, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) with 772,400 members – about a third of the Namibian population – and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN) with 420,000 members.

The seven-day program for the assembly includes daily devotions, Bible studies, reports, thematic presentations, regional meetings and elections.  The Oshiwambo word for marketplace is “Omatala.” A large tent next to the conference center will be used as a gathering space for facilitating knowledge-sharing, interaction and telling stories.

The global commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation will be held in the Sam Nujoma Stadium on May 14th where assembly delegates and local Lutheran congregations will take part.

The choice of Namibia as the venue for the Twelfth Assembly has great significance.  The story of the relationship between the LWF and the Lutheran churches in Namibia is closely intertwined with the national struggle against apartheid so that justice, freedom and dignity could be achieved for all Namibians. With Lutherans comprising half the population, Namibia exemplifies the way in which the Lutheran movement has been embraced and has effectively taken root in other lands outside of Europe.

Earlier this year in February I was privileged to join 120 Lutheran delegates from 31 member churches in 27 African countries who gathered for the Africa pre-Assembly here in Johannesburg.  The meeting provided delegates the opportunity to reflect on the theme and sub-themes for the Twelfth Assembly and to share perspectives from the continent.  The pre-Assembly issued a joint statement highlighting a number of important issues including: care for creation, mission, refugees, theological education, the ordination of women, youth involvement, ecumenism, peace, justice and reconciliation.

As a member of the LWF the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will be sending an official delegation to the Assembly including ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.  A number of observers from ELCA Companion Synods linked to Lutheran churches in Namibia will also be in attendance.

Thank you for your prayers, support and participation in God’s mission locally and globally.

Yours faithfully,

Rev. Dr. Philip Knutson,  ELCA Global Mission Regional Representative, Southern Africa

Johannesburg, April 20, 2017