ONDANGWA, Namibia – “For the sake of the church, we need youth participation in leadership” said Rev Dr Martin Junge, General Secretary of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in his address to the pre-assembly of the youth before the Twelfth LWF assembly in Windhoek, Namibia.
The General Secretary gave a heartfelt presentation to over 120 young men and women from 61 LWF member churches in 44 countries. Speaking on the life of the LWF communion today and its future direction, he expressed: “Theology is the center, Christ is the center, and there is a need to always place Christ in the center. With so much noise currently around the world and in society, this is instrumental for us to remember: It all begins with Christ. It’s because of who God is and what God does, not because of what we are and what we do.”
With that grounding in theology and understanding, Junge introduced the LWF and its direction: “Our presence and witness is paramount to the life of the communion and bridging global relations,” he said. Junge then shared a quote about what the LWF meant to Carolina Huth, a Global Young Reformer from Argentina:
“From there came four years full of experiences which I wouldn’t be able to explain with words. I learned, discovered, and rediscovered myself as a Lutheran Christian. I found a place where voices are heard, where we walk together. Thousands and thousands of people from every corner you can imagine which are dreaming of a different world and are working to make it possible. A world of dialogue, justice, communion, one of respect and equality.”
More than a quota
Youth have enriched and added life to LWF beyond a quota, Junge said. The active participation and leadership provided has led to various key areas directly influenced or impacted by youth, especially in the areas of climate justice, global young reformers network, intergenerational methodologies and sustainable LWF.
Climate justice under the leadership of youth has been a matter of intergenerational justice, sustainability and the work of the global young reformers. The fast for climate movement started at the UN climate negotiations in Warsaw in 2013 with hundreds standing in solidarity in fasting to “stop the madness” of the climate crisis, including the LWF youth. The LWF youth lead movement began with the initiative of #FastForClimate, inviting people to fast on the first day of each month.
This call quickly reached thousands of supporters around the world. The initiative has been accompanied by regular climate advocacy trainings, climate project support, and networking for young people.
Youth have taken leadership on these issues and they are among the accomplishments of the LWF youth.
Embracing young people’s gifts
LWF is committed to empowering young people in all aspects of church and communion life by receiving and embracing the gifts young people bring into discussions, decisions and leadership throughout the Lutheran communion. Recognizing and utilizing the gifts brought by young members of the communion is essential in the life of the LWF, Junge said: “Youth are vibrant in the life of the communion, integral to the future of the LWF.”
He expressed his hope that the youth will be a catalyst in the life of the communion. There is a need for this to be true at the global level and also at the local church level so that youth may be empowered and continue to enrich the life of our shared communion. The participants received the address with gratitude, affirmed, and challenged the General Secretary in the need to continue the strengthening of young people’s position in the LWF and to develop the channels for youth.