Aerial city view with the bridge over the river and a castle

1 March 2023, Kraków, Poland: The Wawel Royal Castle, pictured as part of an aerial view of the city of Kraków, Poland.


The Thirteenth Assembly of the LWF takes place 13-19 September in historic Krakow, Poland's second biggest city.

The Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland is hosting the assembly that will take place in the country neighbouring Ukraine, where Russia is waging war.

The LWF assembly takes place every six or seven years.

"This is the second LWF assembly to take place in Central Eastern Europe," said LWF general secretary Rev. Dr Anne Burghardt in an interview. She assumed her position in November 2021 and is the first woman and pastor from Central Eastern Europe to lead the global communion of churches.

"And I believe that it really helps to put this whole region into focus also with the learning that can be drawn from its history and the experiences of the churches there," said Burghardt.

She said that the assembly is also special coming in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic.

LWF general secretary addressing the public

22 March 2023, Oxford, England, United Kingdom: Lutheran World Federation general secretary Rev. Dr Anne Burghardt reports as representatives of Lutheran World Federation member churches from across Europe gather at Mansfield College in the English city of Oxford, United Kingdom, for a regional Europe Pre-Assembly to the LWF 13th Assembly, to be held in Krakow, Poland in September 2023.


Challenge of the pandemic

"On the way from the last assembly in Windhoek to the upcoming one in Krakow, we faced numerous challenges. One of the biggest was the COVID-19 pandemic. I would say that one of the successes was how we could bring the communion closer together during that time when we had to use various virtual meeting spaces rather than being together in person," said the LWF general secretary.

"Our member church in Poland, in addition to preparing the assembly, is also undertaking a big operation to support refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine," said Rev. Árni Svanur Daníelsson, the LWF's head of communication during an interview.

"LWF has also opened a country programme in Poland and in Ukraine, so we are very active in responding to the war."

The Polish Lutheran church has around 60,000 members in a mainly Roman Catholic country. Its members have worked hard for the assembly in addition to the added diaconal work brought on by the war in Ukraine, working on the old Lutheran maxim that no church is too small to have something to give.

"We have been working with the churches, in the neighbouring countries, as well as the church in Estonia, in supporting refugees and people in need. And the local church (in Poland) has really scaled up its diaconal work, working very hard."

The Department of World Service, the LWF's humanitarian and development arm, supports refugees from Ukraine and supports more than 3 million people directly worldwide, said Daníelsson.

"It has programmes and activities in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and Europe, that will all be reviewed at the Krakow assembly.”

The LWF has shown a steady increase in membership, counting 149 churches and 77 million people in its communion, which shares its headquarters at the Ecumenical Centre with the World Council of Churches in Geneva.

People passing by the castle in the park

People walk along a pedestrian route near the Wawel Royal Castle in the city of Kraków, Poland.


Windhoek assembly

The LWF's Twelfth Assembly took place in Windhoek, Namibia, in May 2017, the year that marked the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and was the venue for the Lutheran communion's global commemoration.

Czech priest Prof. Tomáš Halík was recently announced as the LWF Assembly keynote speaker in Krakow.

Halik was ordained secretly during the communist era when the Soviet Union dominated eastern European communist countries. He is a renowned professor, writer, and public speaker calling for dialogue and closer cooperation between people of all faiths and none.

Ordained clandestinely as a Roman Catholic priest in Erfurt, East Germany, during the communist era, he became one of the organizers of an underground network dedicated to religious freedom and has remained a key figure in the intellectual life of his country.

Burghardt said the LWF wants "strong witness" at the assembly during troubled times that offers hope to the churches and through the churches to the people they serve.

She sees such hope acting, given the tendencies seen in the world today.

"These include a very strong push back on human rights, growing ethno-nationalist populations, (so hope) to offer a sign that reconciliation and unity are possible in the times where polarization can be found everywhere in the world," said Burghardt.

Daníelsson said that some 360 delegates are expected in Krakow at the assembly, along with advisors, experts, and partners, bringing the total to 800 to 900 people.

"An assembly is a transformative event," he said. "People from all over the world come together to pray, reflect, learn from each other and our various contexts, and set a direction for our shared journey in the coming years."

Learn more about the Thirteenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation

Aerial view on the modern conference centre

Aerial view of the city of Kraków, Poland, including the ICE congress centre, the venue of the Thirteenth Assembly of the LWF.