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Lutheran World Federation greetings

Delivered by LWF president Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, also on behalf of the Christian World Communions, to the Mission Plenary of the WCC 10th Assembly.

04 November 2013

delivered during the Mission Plenary of the WCC 10th Assembly
Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, president of the LWF

Mr Moderator, Rev. Prof. Dr Altmann, General Secretary of the WCC Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, honorable Assembly delegates and participants, dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

God of Life - Lead us to Justice and Peace!

It is a joy and a privilege to greet today the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches gathering here in Busan. I bring these greetings on behalf of the Lutheran World Federation, a communion of 142 churches in 79 countries bringing together more than 70 million Christians of the Lutheran tradition.

Commitment to the quest for Christian unity has been an integral part of the self-understanding of the Lutheran World Federation since its formation in 1947. Theological dialogue is the backbone of our ecumenical commitment as it is expressed in our bilateral dialogues, which we understand to be our major contribution to the wider ecumenical conversation.

Through these processes we have learned that as much as ecumenical dialogue is about theological discernment it is also about accompanying each other. It is about sharing the journey of faith, listening carefully to each other’s experiences, and seeking justice in all contexts. The apostolicity of the church calls us to continue the tradition of visitation and hospitality, sharing spiritual, theological and diaconal gifts as we respond to the call to participate in God’s mission.

Looking against the background of two thousand years of the Christian church, the achievements of the last fifty years of ecumenical dialogue are remarkable. Our joint theological engagement has been transformed into processes of healing of memories, leading our churches from fragmentation and conflict toward growing communion and joint witness in the world. We thank the Lord that the Holy Spirit continues to guide us again to hear the prayer of Christ: “That they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me” (John 17:23).

The 9th WCC Assembly approved a resolution on the role of Christian World Communions as partners of the WCC, calling the WCC to explore structures providing expanded space for Christian World Communions and confessional families to meet within the framework of WCC assemblies. Based on this resolution, the Busan Assembly has now provided wider space for an active participation of Christian World Communions during the preparation process as well as in the life of the Assembly. This is particularly valuable for our commitment to critically asses and to look for reconfiguration of the ecumenical space.

From its beginning, the LWF has committed to the call to serve our vulnerable and marginalized neighbors. We are grateful for the opportunity to bring our diaconal vocation to the joint effort to serve the world and to work for sustainable development and humanitarian response. The ACT Alliance is a vital expression of this shared effort. Our joint service has transformed not just the communities we serve, but has become an important conduit of greater understanding among Christian communions.

As the LWF is now looking together with our ecumenical partners toward the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, there is an increasing need to strengthen the link between theological discernment and service in the world. As people who have been encountered by Christ we are called to meet and accompany the poor and vulnerable. In this accompaniment, the message of reconciliation entrusted for us allows us to proclaim wholeness in the midst of a fragmented world.

Knowing that we receive these gifts from God alone, we continue to believe that the Church has to raise its prophetic voice in our fragmented world, and to address issues of justice and peace and human rights, including gender justice, economic justice, environmental justice and religious freedom. We continue to work for justice in and for the unity of this peninsula on which our Assembly is being held. God of life, bring justice and peace to this country and to all who call it home.

As I bring this greeting to you in my capacity as President of the LWF, I bring it also with my own identity and history as an Arab Christian and with my specific rootedness in the Middle East. Hence, I bring you also the greetings from the Holy City of Jerusalem, a city yearning for wholeness and peace. With the entire LWF communion, I continue to believe that peace based on justice, and reconciliation based on forgiveness is still possible in the Middle East. We continue calling for a shared Jerusalem for the three religions and two nations. I want to express our gratitude to the WCC for on-going support through both the Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) and the Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel. Together with the work of the LWF on the Mount of Olives and many other ministries of Christian churches in Jerusalem, these are all powerful signs of hope that need to be sustained. l want to particularly give thanks for the strong resolve with which the WCC is taking up the challenging realities regarding the Christian presence and witness in the Middle East. God of Life - Lead us to Justice and Peace.

The theme of the Assembly is a prayer. A prayer in which the children of God are turning to the Creator, the source of all life, asking for liberation and guidance - show us the way to justice and peace! We know that working and praying for justice and peace is our mission in this world as Christians, but that we as human beings, fallen and hence depending on the grace of God, are not able to fulfill that mission alone. This is why God sends Jesus Christ who opens the way for us and, through his death and resurrection, establishes justice and peace for the whole creation.

May the Holy Spirit lead the work of this Assembly. “What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). "God of Life - Lead us to Justice and Peace!" May God bless you.