(LWI) – “Grace always needs a context in which it can affect change,” said Namibian Bishop Burgert Brand at a public symposium hosted jointly by the country’s Lutheran churches and The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Windhoek.
Over 300 people including ambassadors, clergy and guests from the Lutheran and other churches in Windhoek attended the 16 March event under the theme “Liberated by God’s Grace.” The United Church Council – Namibia Evangelical Lutheran Churches (UCC-NELC) and the LWF organized the symposium in the context of the invitation by Lutheran churches in Namibia to host the global Assembly of the LWF in May 2017 in Windhoek.
The Twelfth Assembly will also celebrate 500 years of the Reformation and will welcome 700 people from across the globe from the LWF’s 144 member churches representing over 72 million Lutherans. The symposium participants included members of the Assembly Planning Committee, holding their second meeting, 14 – 18 March, to prepare for the assembly.
On behalf of the UCC-NELC, Brand, head of the German-speaking Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia offered his gratitude to the LWF and its member churches for supporting the Lutheran churches in Namibia as they reached out to marginalized communities during the recent drought.
The LWF was founded in the aftermath of World War II, whereby one in six Lutherans in Europe was a refugee. “The LWF arose from the hot ashes of destruction,” said Bishop emeritus Dr Zephania Kameeta, Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN), speaking at the symposium. “By God’s grace this fellowship walks in the footsteps of where it was born: to take care of those in need,” said Kameeta, who is a member of the LWF Council.
Kameeta praised the solidarity of the Lutheran communion worldwide, saying, “the prayer of men and women and Sunday school children from all over the world—that solidarity saved our lives.” He said, “We thank God that this Assembly is coming to Namibia.”
The former ELCRN bishop reminded the symposium of the travel restrictions before independence in 1990. “It was total isolation,” he said. “But now the whole world is coming to Namibia. Is that not a reason to be joyful?” Kameeta asked. “[And] to say ‘you are welcome,’” he added.
LWF General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge, addressing guests at the symposium said, “We came to the people of Namibia with our commitment to stand in solidarity with people longing for justice and dignity. That is why we stood with you as you were struggling for independence. And that is why we supported you in the process of nation building once independence was achieved.”
He noted that by coming to Namibia, the LWF was passing on the solidarity it had received in the past. “In 1947 when we started our work, one of the first care boxes for refugees came from Namibia,” Junge said. “Being in communion means sometimes taking and sometimes giving,” he emphasized. “This care box has been multiplied in millions and is being sent around the world today,” he added.
Junge reminded the audience that solidarity is not something to be paid back, rather it is something to be passed on.
The Assembly, LWF’s highest-decision making body, will take place 10-16 May 2017, and include a day of worship and commemoration for the global Reformation anniversary.