Asia Pre-Assembly kicks off regional preparations for LWF Twelfth Assembly

Church leaders at the LWF leaders conference last year. Photo: Johanan Celine P. Valeriano

Lutherans in Thailand host delegates from 54 churches 

(LWI) - Regional gatherings to prepare for the Twelfth Assembly of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) kick off with the Asian region Pre-Assembly in Bangkok, Thailand, 15-19 August. 

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thailand (ELCT) will host the gathering of around 100 people including delegates from the 54 LWF member churches in the region and LWF Communion Office staff.  

Participants will discuss how the Assembly theme “Liberated by God’s Grace,” and its three sub-themes relate to the different contexts and experiences in the region and how this should be articulated at the assembly. They will also learn about the processes and methodologies of the next Assembly to be held in May 2017 in Namibia. 

The head of Thailand’s Lutheran church, Bishop Banjob Kusawadee will welcome delegates during an opening worship on 15 August. LWF Asia region Vice-President Eun-hae Kwon will preside at the pre-assembly at which key speakers include LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan and General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge.  

Sharing the joy of the gospel  

Worshipping together is an important aspect of sharing in the Lutheran communion gatherings, and the regional meeting includes daily devotions. “While this is an important meeting to prepare delegates for the highest-governing body of the LWF, it is also a moment for this region to share the joy of the gospel as we journey together in the Lutheran communion,” says Rev. Dr Philip Lok, LWF area secretary for Asia. 

Lok talks about the relevance of the Assembly sub-themes which elaborate why salvation, human beings and creation are “not for sale”. He says “this will help delegates to articulate and challenge the role of the church in a multi-cultural and multi-faith region that is home to some of the world’s leading economies and regrettably also hosts many socially and economically deprived countries and populations.” 

Sustainable Development Goals, Women and Youth 

A key item on the agenda is discussion on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which the LWF has endorsed as part of its long-term commitment through the work of its member churches and country programs around the world. In Bangkok, delegates will assess the respective churches’ priorities in view of the 17 global goals, discuss possibilities for networking with like-minded partners, and map out capacity required in implementing the goals. 

As part of preparations for the global Youth and Women’s Pre-Assemblies, meetings of women and youth delegates from the churches will take place a day prior to the regional gathering.  

Preparing for the Assembly 

Pre-Assemblies for Latin America and the Caribbean as well as North America will be held, 29 August - 2 September in Paramaribo, Suriname; Europe, 31 January - 2 February 2017 in Malmö, Sweden; and Africa, 5 - 11 February in Johannesburg, South Africa. The global Youth Pre-Assembly will take place in Ondangwa northern Namibia, 3 - 9 May, and the Women’s Pre-Assembly delegates will meet, 4 - 9 May in the Namibian capital, Windhoek. 

The three Lutheran churches in Namibia will host the Twelfth Assembly in Windhoek, 10-16 May 2017. Around 370 LWF member church delegates are among the 800 participants expected at the event that will include a commemoration of the 500 years of the Reformation.  

The Assembly is LWF’s highest-decision making body, convening delegates from all the member churches every six to seven years. The Eleventh Assembly was held in July 2010 in Württemberg, Germany.