Nordic churches hold preparatory meeting for LWF Assembly

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Nordic churches hold preparatory meeting for LWF Assembly

(LWI) - Representatives of churches from the Nordic region of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) have been meeting in Sweden to discuss priorities and preparations for the upcoming Thirteenth Assembly of the global communion of churches in Krakow in September.

Delegates from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden met in the town of Höör from 26 to 27 January to “get to know each other, to update themselves on developments in the period from [the previous LWF Assembly in] Windhoek to Krakow and to reflect on regional thematic priorities,” said Nordic Vice President Rev. Dr Antje Jackelén, archbishop emerita of the Church of Sweden.

The recently retired archbishop, who will be attending her third LWF Assembly, said she hopes the global gathering will generate “a deep understanding of what holistic mission means, globally, regionally and locally.” If that happens, she continued, “it will also bind the communion tighter together and make it more open to the world.”

Economic justice, gender equality, antisemitism

Jackelén and other Nordic church delegates will be participating in a European Pre-Assembly gathering in Oxford in March. But the vice president noted that churches in her region regularly “check in with each other” to share common concerns “so it seems quite natural that we have a Nordic preparatory meeting before we join others for the European Pre-Assembly.”

Among the shared priorities that were identified by delegates was the churches’ response to growing inequalities, including economic inequality and the proposal for a global tax convention to help provide social protection for the most vulnerable. This is a concern also for the church in Sweden, Jackelén said, where “we can speak of a growing slave market due to immigration policies.”

Another key issue discussed at the meeting was strengthening gender justice in the church and in society. “Even in our region, we note backlashes” in this work, Jackelén said. Delegates underlined the importance of theological education, especially support for the LWF’s Hélène Ralivao Fund which offers scholarships to women studying theology in the Africa region.

Financial sustainability for the churches, peace ethics in times of war, combating climate change, welcoming the stranger, engaging with indigenous communities and the challenges of artificial intelligence were also seen as priorities by the Nordic delegates as they looked ahead at the church’s mission over the coming years.

Reflecting on the visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, which will form part of the 13 to 19 September Thirteenth Assembly program, Jackelén said she hopes the global encounter “will also help us as Lutherans to tackle our heritage of antisemitism.” On the final day of the meeting in Höör, which coincided with Holocaust Memorial Day, delegates commemorated all victims of the Shoah. “This was also part of our spiritual life during this meeting,” Vice President Jackelén concluded.

LWF/P. Hitchen