The Council of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) affirmed the commitment of the international body to two main fields: mission and ecumenism, during the Council’s weeklong meeting in Geneva, earlier this month.
In total, the Council approved nearly 6.7 million dollars (USD) for use in mission development over the next three years. Annually, the LWF Committee for Mission and Development will be spending 2.5 million for 2005, 2.1 million for 2006 and 2 million for 2007.
The majority of these projects will be centered in Africa; 25 projects have been affirmed for the countries in Africa. The Council also passed 16 projects in Asia, 11 in Europe and 14 in Latin America and the Caribbean. These projects, according to the LWF, “relates to pastoral and outreach ministries, communication and development,” and will serve “as one of the means to fulfill the church’s holistic and participatory mission.”
Meanwhile, the second topic of focus for the LWF’s annual council was the role of ecumenism in the life and work of the LWF. A highly ecumenical group, the LWF reaffirmed its commitment to further dialogue and ties with other denominational families.
The LWF council thus appointed new members to continue the work of the Anglican-Lutheran International Commission – a group that was established during a council meeting in 2002. Newly appointed members are: Church President Rev. Dr Thomas Nyiwe (Cameroon); Prof. Kirsten Busch Nielsen (Denmark); Rev. Ángel F. Furlan (Argentina); Prof. Cameron Harder (Canada); Rev. Dr Hartmut Hövelmann (Germany); Rev. Helene Tärneberg Steed (Sweden); and Church President Rev. Josephine Tso (Hong Kong, China). Prof. Kenneth Appold (Strasbourg institute) and Rev. Thomas Bruch (United Kingdom) will serve as consultants to the commission.
The Council also approved an ecumenical program with the Reformed family. The Lutheran-Reformed Joint Commission, which was initially established in 2002, will have the involve the commitment of the following members from the LWF:. General Bishop Dr Július Filo (Slovak Republic); Prof. Anneli Aejmelaeus (Finland); Bishop Thomas J. Barnett (Sierra Leone); Prof. Song Mee Chung (Malaysia); Prof. Luis Henrique Dreher (Brazil); Prof. Kathryn Johnson (USA) and Superintendent Dieter Lorenz (Germany). Prof. André Birmelé (Strasbourg institute) will serve as consultant to the commission.
The Council this year also approved a mandate for the Lutheran-Mennonite International Study Commission. The Commission was first introduced in 2002 to consider the condemnation of Anabaptists in the Augsburg Confession; the LWF was considering the question of whether these apply to the Mennonites today. The commission will consider whether the condemnations of Anabaptists articulated by the Augsburg Confession (1530) apply to the Mennonite World Conference member churches and related churches. The commission is expected to submit a report of its conclusions to the MWC and LWF governing bodies for further action, and with a view toward a possible official statement.
In relation to Inter-Lutheran dialogue, the LWF Council expressed the desire to “continue develop of contact and cooperation between Lutheran world organizations and their member churches.” The International Lutheran Council is the conservative counterpart to the LWF.