Young Lutherans raise concerns at Council 2019

21 Jun 2019
Youth members of the LWF Council gather ahead of the 13 to 18 June meeting Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert

Youth members of the LWF Council gather ahead of the 13 to 18 June meeting Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert

Youth Council members call for action on climate change, gender justice and participation in church leadership

(LWI) - Young Lutheran ordained and lay leaders from different parts of the globe gathered in Geneva for a Pre-Council meeting, voicing concerns about gender justice and climate change as well as more meaningful participation in the lives of their local churches.

The Lutheran World Federation Council includes 14 youth members, two from each of the seven regions represented in the global Lutheran family. During the 13 to 18 June Council meeting in Geneva, nine of those representatives from Argentina, Germany, Iceland, the Holy Land, Russia, the Philippines, South Africa and the United States, discussed their hopes and expectations, as well as the challenges they experience in their local country contexts.

Lutheran identity, local context

Many of them shared positive feedback on the way their membership in the Council helps them to understand more about the diverse ways of being Lutheran in the world today. But it also challenges them to think deeply about how they can help to implement the LWF strategy within the traditional cultures and contemporary influences that shape their own countries and regions.

Participants asked for more education, communication and awareness raising for young people in member churches about the work to support the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. They noted their concerns echo the priorities outlined in their 2017 LWF Youth Pre-Assembly message which is focused on revival of churches, equity and education.

Above all, these young women and men want to be more than just a token presence to fill the quotas decided over three decades ago during the LWF Assembly in Budapest. In a world where youth are increasingly challenging political and cultural agendas, they are asking for more meaningful participation at all levels of their churches too.

Confronting fears, celebrating gifts

Rev. Karla Steilmann is a pastor in the Evangelical Church of the River Plate in Argentina (present in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay). Speaking about the murders, persecution and dangers facing young women on her continent, she appeals to other young Lutherans in Latin America and the Caribbean to work for open and respectful dialogue about the need for gender justice.

Khulekani Magwaza is from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa. His message concerns climate change which, he said, has affected his region in a very visible way through the recent devastating floods and cyclones. “Climate change is an intergenerational issue which questions the future that we’re dreaming of,” he warned.

Cheryl Philip, from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is a youth representative from the North American region. She explains how meaningful youth participation is all about “celebrating the gifts of young people throughout our communion” in whatever walks of life they choose to serve their church.