It’s easy to get caught up in the essential ministries that take place in our own communities. We move in and out of that community each day, we participate in those ministries, we benefit from them too, and we likely personally know people who are part of those ministries. What about other parts of the body of Christ? Do you ever think about Lutherans in Peru, Nigeria, India or other places?
Would it surprise you to learn that there are more than 69 million Lutherans worldwide? The ELCA is one of 140 Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition in 79 countries around the globe that belong to the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Delegates from those 140 churches will come together in Stuttgart, Germany this summer to carry out the work of the LWF.
Recently a group of Lutheran women gathered outside Geneva, Switzerland, preparing for the 2010 LWF Assembly. After much discussion the group narrowed its focus to three issues on which women around the globe could agree that the church must address: human trafficking, barriers to women’s leadership in the church, and unequal food distribution. Even those who have been involved with the women’s organization for just a short time know that these are three issues central to the ministries of Women of the ELCA. How empowering for us to be working with Lutherans around the world to create change within our churches relative to these issues.
The women meeting in Switzerland joined in praying
• that men, women, and children are not treated as disposable and thus, we counter the idea that human bodies and lives can be traded as merchandise to the highest bidder.
• that women are considered and encouraged to participate in the public field and in churches with equal rights and responsibilities; that we work toward the ordination of women in all the ministries of our churches.
• for food sovereignty, bearing in mind, in particular, the inequity in food production, distribution and consumption based on the painful experience of discrimination on grounds of gender.
You can read the entire text of the statement issued by these women. This week all the North American delegates will gather together in a pre-assembly to prepare for Stuttgart; join me in praying that their time might be fruitful and constructive, especially as they engage with the statement from the women’s pre-assembly.
How are you addressing these issues in your context? How is your companion synod addressing these issues? You’ll want to pay attention to the upcoming LWF assembly. We have much to contribute to the discussions, and we have much more to learn from our sisters around the globe. Look for future program resources from Women of the ELCA on these topics too.
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA and is the North American regional coordinator for LWF’s Women in Church and Society work.