GENEVA - A Lutheran World Federation (LWF) delegation comprising representatives of member churches in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica and India, and some LWF staff will participate in the World Social Forum (WSF) 2003, which begins today in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Up to 100,000 people are expected to take part in the January 23-28 third session of the WSF focusing on debate and discussion on concrete strategies and alternatives to current social and economic policies worldwide. The theme of the forum is "Another World is Possible."
Leader of the delegation, Rev. Angel Furlan, president of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church, Argentina, and moderator of the Bishops and Presidents Conference of the LWF Latin American member churches, echoed this sentiment as he prepared to travel to Porto Alegre. "We firmly believe that another world is possible, because we have seen this world already anticipated in the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, we want to join the forum firmly rooted in this hope and actively participating with others in the construction of this other world."
The WSF, launched in Porto Alegre for the first time in January 2001, attracts a diverse range of participants from social movements, labor unions, environmental concern groups and faith-based groups as well as development workers and academics. It was established as a response to the World Economic Forum and intends to search for alternatives to current models of economic and political governance that result in injustice and marginalization of the poor and vulnerable.
The delegation sees its participation as a first response to the "Call for Transforming Economic Globalization," a process begun during the June 2002 LWF Council meeting in Wittenberg, Germany. At the forum, the group will contribute to a much broader ecumenical presence. As part of this ecumenical effort, the LWF will convene workshops under the themes, "God and Globalization: God's Project and the Neoliberal Project," "Illegitimate Debt: An Ethical Approach to Debt Issues," and "Trade and Human Rights: Concepts and Latest Developments". In mounting these workshops, the LWF will cooperate with partners such as the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, Norwegian Church Aid, Jubilee South, and the International NGO Committee on Human Rights in Trade and Investment.
Summarizing his expectations of the forum, Rev. Furlan said, "We are very happy that the LWF followed our petition of being present at the current WSF. We expect strong impulses for our continuing work and reflection on issues related to economic globalization, but also as we prepare for the July 2003 LWF Tenth Assembly in Winnipeg, Canada."
By Albert H. Lee