A NEWS RELEASE
From Lutheran World Information
GENEVA, 2 April 2007 (LWI) - After eight years of preparation, the Council of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), meeting in Lund, Sweden, from 20 to 27 March, adopted a historic statement on the episcopal ministry.
The full title of the statement is "Episcopal Ministry within the Apostolicity of the Church - The Lund Statement by the Lutheran World Federation - A Communion of Churches." It has been developed as a clarification of how the Lutheran churches understand the character and purpose of the ministry of oversight in the church, paying particular attention to how this ministry serves the church’s apostolicity - its continuity with Christ and the apostles.
The project mandated by the LWF Council in 1999, has been lodged in the LWF Office for Ecumenical Affairs and has been carried out in cooperation with the Department for Theology and Studies and the Institute for Ecumenical Research, Strasbourg. It builds on previous LWF studies on the topic, undertaken in 1983 and 1993.
In 2002 a consultation was held in Malta, composed of Lutheran members of the bilateral dialogues in which the LWF is a partner. This consultation developed a statement, "The Episcopal Ministry within the Apostolicity of the Church - A Lutheran Statement 2002," based substantially on material from ecumenical dialogues, and which was shared with all the LWF member churches for study and response. Also, in the course of 2001 and 2002 four regional consultations were organized, which focused on concerns that were specific to churches in the different regions.
The new text presented to the Council in Lund through the Program Committee for Ecumenical Affairs incorporated the statement from the Malta consultation, and all input received from the regions and individual churches. Further discussion and amendments at the Council meeting included proposals received from an international Consultation of Lutheran Women Bishops, Presidents and Leaders in the Ministry of Oversight, also held in Lund. On 26 March, the Council affirmed the Lund Statement unanimously, thereby providing for the first time an official text that expresses the current Lutheran understanding of the ministry of oversight.
LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko, emphasized the statement is not intended to be a magisterial document, but a significant contribution to an important issue, both in ecumenical relations and within the LWF as a communion of churches.
According to the Lund Statement, episcopal ministers shall "provide forms of leadership that are truly shared, facilitating collaborative styles of ministry." They are called to "demonstrate humility and simplicity of life. The profile of their ministry is not one of domination, but of service, showing clear awareness of those on the margins of society." In the exercise of their ministry they "must set aside the necessary time and space for their own prayer, study and recreation, thereby also setting a much needed example for all the ordained and lay persons as well." (488 words)
The full text of the statement is available on the LWF Web site at: http://www.lutheranworld.org/LWF_Documents/LWF_The_Lund_Statement_2007.pdf
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The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF currently has 140 member churches in 78 countries all over the world, with a total membership of nearly 66.7 million. The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas of common interest such as ecumenical and interfaith relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication, and the various aspects of mission and development work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.
Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the LWF's information service.
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