WINDHOEK, Namibia, 16 May 2017 – “I belong to Christ, and you belong to Christ, and together, we get to march in the parade led by the Holy Spirit,” said Rev. Lydia Posselt from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, who offered Lutherans from around the world a message of hope in her sermon at the closing worship of the Twelfth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).
“This parade leads us out into the world, out to our neighbors, where the fruits of our freedom in Christ are given away to others, not hoarded or stored up for our own benefit.”
The Twelfth Assembly took place in Windhoek, Namibia from 10-16 May. It brought together 800 participants from LWF member churches to worship, discern and decide together under the theme “Liberated by God’s Grace.” They prayed and sang at the closing worship to the rhythm of Namibian drums and harmonious voices from around the world, liberated by that spirit.
Council member, Church of Sweden Archbishop Dr. Antje Jackelén, presided in the closing worship.
“Marching where we are needed”
The 32-year old Posselt was the winner of the Assembly preaching contest. To honor the legacy of Martin Luther, who himself was only 33 years old when he published his 95 theses in Wittenberg, young pastors of the communion were invited to supply a sermon for the closing worship.
She identified the journey and tasks ahead for the Assembly participants:
“Guided by the Spirit, we are marching exactly where we are needed, straight into a world that is suffering and in pain. We are marching toward into a future we can’t clearly see yet but includes the healing of the nations, the reconciling of differences, the inclusion of the excluded, and the freedom of those who have so long been in bondage, including ourselves. As we separate, we will march back to our home countries and hometowns, but together we will all be marching in the light of God.”
Installation of new president and Council
During the closing worship, members of the new LWF Council and the LWF president were installed. They will lead the LWF through its work in the next seven years.
Introducing the installation, a young person, representing the 50 young reformers and stewards present, said to the new Council members: “You have been chosen by this Assembly, to be the ongoing voice of Lutheran churches around the world. You are charged to bring the Gospel of liberation to all peoples, engaging all neighbors in building a trustworthy world.”
At the end of the worship service, newly installed LWF President Musa Panti Filibus declared the Twelfth Assembly of The Lutheran World Federation over, and offered a blessing to all participants for the work ahead:
“Go to the north, to the south, to the east, and to the west and proclaim freedom, and live the gift of God’s grace. Go forth into the world in peace. Hold fast to that which is good. Give to no one evil for evil. Support the weak. Comfort the afflicted. Confront the principalities and powers. Strive for justice. And may our gracious God, who broods over creation as a mother over her children, bless and keep us all.”