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Family, Marriage and Sexuality

Emmaus Conversations

Questions related to family, marriage and sexuality have been a part of LWF member churches’ reality for many years as they have been proclaiming the Gospel, serving the needy and advocating for peace and justice.

Since 1995, the LWF has engaged in a dialogue and discernment process on family, marriage and sexuality issues at the governance level, most recently through the “Emmaus Conversation.”  

LWF governing bodies have chosen not to take a position on family, marriage and sexuality issues.

Rather, the LWF sees as its role to accompany and bring together its member churches in open, respectful dialogue on their ongoing journey as a communion of churches.

This dialogue is an expression of the LWF’s commitment to find ways better to discuss potentially dividing issues. The LWF wants to deepen understanding of member churches’ different contexts and the different theological perspectives that shape their discernment on questions like these.


Photo: LWF/M. Haas
  • A Chronological Compilation of Key Official LWF Discussions and Decisions on Family, Marriage and Sexuality (1995-2013)



  • Claiming the Gift of Communion in a Fragmented World (Council 2013)



  • Post-Council 2012 Letter to LWF Member Churches, National Committees and Recognized Congregations



  • Task Force Report & Proposed Guidelines and Processes for Respectful Dialogue (Council 2007)



Emmaus Conversation

Looking to the biblical account of the encounter between Jesus and the disciples on the road to Emmaus, LWF member churches embrace mutual accompaniment as the model for communion relationships.

We walk together in God’s mission in solidarity, interdependence and mutual responsibility.

We share and reflect on our journey as a communion of churches, on theological questions in view of current challenges and on further communion-wide and bilateral dialogue and discernment processes.

Commitment to Unity

"As a communion we will find ways better to discuss the issues that potentially divide us – issues such as human sexuality and different interpretation of the Scriptures – in ways that honor both diversity of views on important issues and the more fundamental basis of unity among us.
We will first of all rely on the power of Eucharistic worship and prayer.

(LWF Strategy 2012-2017)

Emmaus Milestones

1995 Council decision Consultation process on human sexuality begins
2003 Assembly message Re-affirms dialogue process and advocates dignity of all people
2004 to 2006 8-person task force Appointed by Council to reflect and advise on the issue
2007 Task force report Council adopts guidelines for respectful dialogue over 5 years
2009 Church decisions Some member churches take decision on human sexuality issues
2012 Council message Issue not to be communion-dividing, no positions taken at global level
2013 3-churches in rift Council mandates Communion Office to offer accompaniment
2014 Journeying together Dealing with difference, accompanying each other

Photo: LWF | Photo: LWF/M. Haas | Photo: LWF/Maximilian Haas