Salvation Army representation at Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation
Commissioner Vibeke Krommenhoek with Revd Cesar Garcia (Credit: LWF/Marie Renaux)
Together with 1,000 international delegates, Commissioner Vibeke Krommenhoek (European Ecumenical Officer, International Headquarters) attended the 13th assembly of the Lutheran World Federation in Krakow, Poland, from 13-19 September 2023.
The only female ecumenical guest from a list of 20 delegates invited to attend, Commissioner Krommenhoek explained, ‘The assembly meets every seven years to choose a new president and a new committee from among the delegates. Through daily worship, Bible studies, lectures, panel discussions and small group work, a strategy – including topics for consideration for the next seven years – is developed.’
One Body, One Spirit, One Hope
Lutheran Revd Danielle Dokman preached in the opening worship, underlining the importance of our bodies, since God revealed himself in the body of Jesus. She went on to say that where people are led by the Spirit, they are set in motion and, finally, where people bring their gifts and themselves to the Christ-child, hope is revealed for a better world. Her message was inspirational and complemented the theme of the assembly – ‘One Body, One Spirit, One Hope’ – which also formed the foundation of the daily contributions.
Revd Danielle Dokman (Credit: LWF/Albin Hillert)
Each day, different elements of the theme were unwrapped through Bible study, an extensive lecture and small group work where delegates and guests met to share their personal experience on the theme of that day. The programme included a moving excursion to Auschwitz, where so many perished during the Second World War, and concluded with fellowship with local Lutheran churches in the region on Sunday.
Following the visit to Auschwitz, Martin Turski, a 97-year-old Jew and Holocaust survivor, spoke to the assembly. He urged delegates to combat hate speech and to turn fear of strangers into empathy for ‘the other’. Mr Turski showed how the past can be repeated if we listen to and accept the ideas of nationalism and hatred of the stranger whilst forgetting about compassion.
Bringing people closer to Christ
Bible studies and lectures were given by eminent speakers from around the globe. Monsignor Dr Tomáš Halík, a Roman Catholic priest from the Czech Republic, spoke very powerfully, stressing that churches must speak into the existential needs and questions of people today instead of repeating old and irrelevant messages.
Secretly ordained during the cold war, Father Halík has baptised thousands of young people and his books are often the most popular theological texts in many countries. His message was clear: churches of today must not be about gaining (more) members, but about bringing people closer to Christ.
Monsignor Dr Tomáš Halík (Credit: LWF/Albin Hillert)
To conclude the assembly, an ecumenical panel from seven Christian world communions shared insights on the road to reconciliation. Speakers emphasised that Christ and his sacrifice for the world binds us together. Topics chosen for the next seven years include climate justice, social justice and gender justice. The assembly affirmed the gift of unity in diversity and the call to serve the neighbour.
Commissioner Vibeke Krommenhoek concludes: ‘Along with the other ecumenical guests, I was present with international delegates at many informal encounters. We came together in fellowship and worship on the final day, and I was able to hand out many business cards and copies of the booklet The Church Known as The Salvation Army.Tags: Europe, Ecumenism, News