Asian Church Leaders: Ministry after the storm
Lutheran leaders from across Asia gather in Bangkok to explore post-pandemic theological and pastoral challenges
(LWI) - Church leaders from across the Asia region are meeting in the Thai capital, Bangkok, from 18-23 May to discuss ways forward for their ministries and mission in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Delegates will explore the theological and pastoral challenges of ‘Ministry after the storm,’ as they share stories of resilience and remember all those who lost their lives during multiple waves of the pandemic.
The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt will be addressing the meeting, which brings together lay and ordained leaders, including youth delegates, from 27 of the LWF’s 55 member churches in the region. Ongoing travel restrictions and quarantine requirements mean that representatives from other churches are unable to attend this first in-person Asia Church Leaders Conference since 2019.
Participants will also be looking ahead to the LWF’s Thirteenth Assembly, to be held in Poland in 2023, focusing on how to prepare their congregations for this key event in the life of the global communion of churches. Lutheran identity, youth leadership, gender justice and theological education will be among the topics that church leaders will be exploring within their local and regional contexts.
New bishop in Thailand to preach at opening service
The meeting is hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thailand which numbers around five thousand members in the largely Buddhist nation. The church has just elected a new bishop, Rev. Chanda Saiyota, who will be preaching and presiding at the conference’s opening worship service.
LWF’s Regional Secretary for Asia, Rev. Philip Lok noted that member churches have learned new ways of communicating during the last two years of the pandemic. “But online meetings could never replace the space where we sit side-by-side and worship together,” he said.
“To hear real voices lifting their praises and prayers to God, to offer and receive a warm embrace in our communion relationship, or to learn from one another in the most tangible way: this is what the ACLC is seeking to provide for these 60 leaders who have travelled to Thailand, despite the ongoing Covid-related travel requirements in many Asian countries,” he added.