Once every six years, delegates from 145 member churches of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) gather to convene an Assembly, and set the vision and priorities of the communion. This is our highest decision-making body.
As well as determining the direction of the LWF, we examine issues facing our churches, and worship together in a celebration of communion and cultural diversity. As the LWF’s supreme authority, the Assembly is responsible for safeguarding the Constitution, electing its next set of leaders, acting on reports, speaking out on issues concerning the life and witness of member churches, and setting the overall direction for the ensuing period.
The theme of this Assembly is, Liberated by God’s Grace, with sub-themes focusing on issues pertinent to our time: that salvation is not a gift that can be bought, and that exploitation of people and environmental degradation are critical issues of our time that demand our attention.
Each LWF Assembly is unique. It is shaped by the historical juncture in which it takes place, its venue, and the people who help shape its character, define its purposes and determine its outcomes. The Assembly is excited to meet in Namibia, a country that is deeply rooted in the Lutheran tradition, from May 10 to 16, 2017. The year 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. This Assembly is the venue for its global commemoration.
The Assembly is an ongoing process, beginning in August 2016. Prior to the Assembly, delegates from member churches in the seven regions of the LWF gather at regional meetings, known as pre-Assemblies. The pre-Assemblies are held as follows:
Asia (15-19 August 2016)
Latin America and the Caribbean, North America (27 August – 3 September 2016)
Europe (31 January – 3 February 2017)
Africa (5 - 11 February 2017)
Pre-Assemblies are also held for youth and women:
Youth (3-9 May 2017)
Women (4-9 May 2017)
The Twelfth Assembly in Namibia
The choice of Namibia as the venue for the Twelfth Assembly has great significance for the LWF. The story of the relationship between the LWF and the Lutheran churches in Namibia is closely intertwined with the national struggle and victory against apartheid so that justice, freedom and dignity could be achieved for all Namibians. To anchor the Assembly in Namibia is to epitomize and celebrate this accompaniment made possible by the grace of God. It is also significant that the global commemoration of the Reformation is taking place in Namibia during the Assembly. With Lutherans comprising half the population, Namibia exemplifies the way in which the Lutheran faith has been embraced and has effectively taken root in other lands outside of Europe.
Hopes for the Twelfth Assembly are summed up in four key words: joyful, transformative, forward-looking, outward-looking.
Joyful - we celebrate diversity and the sense of belonging to one global communion
Transformative - we will developing clear insights and a powerful narrative of what it means to work together towards a just, peaceful and reconciled world
Forward-looking - we will embrace the future with courage and hope and in this process upholding the generation that embodies this future
Outward-looking - we will strengthen ecumenical involvement and engagement in the world through compassionate diaconal concern and unwavering passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Setting the tone for the future
The year 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and the Twelfth Assembly, meeting at that time, will be the venue for its global commemoration. As a milestone that will set the tone for the future, the Assembly will gather the fruits of the work undertaken on the way to Namibia since 2010. By doing so, the Assembly charts the way to the future.
The Assembly is not a one-off meeting but is part of a journey that starts before and continues after the Assembly. The pre-Assemblies will be important signposts in this journey. It is hoped that the life of the LWF and that of its member churches following the Assembly will be made richer through the decisions taken at the Assembly, the messages the Assembly will convey and the people who will have been part of the Assembly experience.
In total, around 800 participants will gather in Namibia. The Assembly will be hosted by the three Lutheran member churches: Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia, Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia-German Evangelical Lutheran Church. These churches are joined and work together through a common platform, the United Church Council of the Namibian Evangelical Lutheran Churches.
The venue of the Assembly is the Safari Court Hotels and Conference Centre in Windhoek, Namibia.