WINDHOEK, Namibia/GENEVA, 4 May 2017 (LWI) - Up to 100 women delegates to the Twelfth Assembly of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), members of the LWF Women in Church and Society (WICAS) network and a local women’s working group are gathering in Namibia’s capital Windhoek, for the Women’s Pre-Assembly from 6 to 9 May.
“The Women’s Pre-Assembly will provide a good opportunity to harvest what we have developed in the women’s network during the past years,” says Rev. Dr Elaine Neuenfeldt, LWF WICAS Secretary. One of the key processes has been “Women on the move – from Wittenberg to Windhoek,” a movement aimed at planning, strategizing, monitoring and leading global and regional activities and initiatives to enhance women's leadership across the communion.
Its four main working areas, namely, “Her-stories,” women’s empowerment in leadership and the ordained ministry, the LWF Gender Justice Policy (GJP), and women doing theology, will also be focus points of the Women’s Pre-Assembly agenda in Windhoek.
“Her-stories” is a process of collecting and telling women’s stories and experiences in the on-going Reformation. Starting off with women such as Katharina von Bora, the wife of Martin Luther, the program is still taking up stories of women in today’s church and society. “We aim at collecting at least one story per member church,” explains Neuenfeldt.
The second focus is on the empowerment of women in leadership, decision making and in the ordained ministry. “The past five Assemblies of the LWF have all affirmed women in the ordained ministry,” Neuenfeldt recalls. “More than 80 percent of LWF member churches ordain women, and there is a clear direction to move toward full participation of women in ministry, as most of the churches that are not ordaining are discussing this issue.”
The GJP is the outcome of a process initiated by the Eleventh Assembly in 2010, and it was approved by the Council in 2013. Its implementation and contextualization is a priority on the agenda. “The Gender Justice Policy will assist the communion to achieve equality between women and men by implementing measures that promote justice and dignity,” underlines Neuenfeldt. So far it has been translated into more than 20 languages.
The Pre-Assembly will also focus on advocacy and human rights issues. “We look at the Assembly theme ‘Liberated by God’s Grace’ and the sub-themes ‘Salvation – not for sale’, ‘Human beings – not for sale’ and ‘Creation – not for sale’ from a theological and gender perspective,” explains Neuenfeldt. “Issues like human trafficking, female genital mutilation and women’s rights require particular advocacy from faith-based organizations.”
A “market of experiences” is part of the Pre-Assembly program. Women from the different LWF regions will present projects and workshops on topics related to the Assembly themes and the “Women on the move” program in the Omatala marketplace at the Assembly.
“This assembly is a collective effort of many hands and many gifts in the LWF communion. It is a moment of joy, celebration and affirmation of women as active agents of change in the churches and the communion,” Neuenfeldt adds.
The outcome of the Pre-Assembly will be formulated in the women’s message to the Twelfth Assembly, which will be presented on 10 May.