LWF Council Actions
Changes in Departments, Welcome to New Member Churches
(LWI) – The Council of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) concluded its meeting in Medan, Indonesia, with decisions on ecumenical dialogues, finance and the work of the respective departments. It also received two new churches into LWF membership. The actions were based on discussions from the reports of the Council committees.
On recommendations of the Committee for Theology and Ecumenical Relations the Council received the report of the Lutheran-Reformed Joint Commission. The document, titled “Communion: On Being the Church,” is ecclesiological in approach. It contains case studies on how Lutheran and Reformed churches exercise their mission jointly in different regions, and proposes practical steps for increased cooperation.
The Council took a further step regarding the dialogue with the Pentecostal churches. The dialogue process with the association of the Assemblies of God will have the theme “The spirit of the Lord is upon me.” The Council appointed members of the dialogue commission.
Changes in the Department for World Service
Changes have occurred in the Department for World Service (DWS), which coordinates LWF’s humanitarian response. The changes relate particularly to the Middle East, where humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees in Jordan, had until now been coordinated through the country program in Jerusalem. Jordan will be enlarged to become a separate country program. In taking this step, the LWF has responded to the long-drawn-out Syrian crisis.
Regarding the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) in East Jerusalem, the Council expressed appreciation to the Communion Office (CO), the AVH board and LWF Jerusalem staff as well as many member churches for the lobby actions carried out to address the hospital’s cash flow crisis stemming from unpaid receivables. At the same time, the Council stressed that the commitment and strong link between the AVH and the LWF and its member churches was not in question. It requested the general secretary to closely monitor the developments so as to ensure LWF’s ongoing solvency.
The Council also took note of an important staff change in the department. Rev. Eberhard Hitzler from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, announced his resignation as DWS director effective 31 August and subsequent relocation to Germany for personal reasons. However, he will still be connected to LWF’s work: from 1 September 2014 he will serve as Special Representative of the LWF General Secretary for the Trusteeship on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
Three New Directions in the Department for Mission and Development
The Council received the report of the Committee for Mission and Development and adopted changes for the Department for Mission and Development (DMD). In the future, the department will have three instead of six programmatic directions: Communion Building; Church Growth and Sustainability; and Capacity for Diakonia. Furthermore, the member church projects supported by DMD are to be associated more closely with these programmatic directions.
Since the last Council, an LWF task force on resource sharing in the communion’s churches analyzed project support to the member churches. In view of the volatile financing of projects under DMD’s oversight, it underlined the need for communion solidarity mechanisms that could include funding, sharing of human resources and other capacity building aspects. The Council endorsed this recommendation.
Membership Increase to 144
The Council also welcomed two new member churches into the LWF communion: the Communion of Protestant Christian Church (ONKP) from the host country, Indonesia, and the Guatemala Lutheran Church (ILUGUA). This addition brings the total number of LWF member churches to 144, coming from 79 countries. Furthermore, four new Council members were elected to replace church representatives who could not continue their remaining term for various reasons.
The Finance Committee presented the budget for 2015. The Council approved expenditure of around EUR 106.3 million for the four CO departments. The Council also adopted the budget for the 2017 Assembly in Namibia. It amounts to EUR 2.9 million, which will be raised on the same principle of fair contributions that applies to membership fees.
Furthermore, the Council adopted six public statements proposed by the Committee for Advocacy and Public Voice.