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Living letters: messages from the LWF women's pre-assemblies.

International

Montreux, Switzerland, November 14th-17th, 2002

Introduction

The 10th Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation began with us, the women gathered for the International Women's Pre-Assembly Consultation in Montreux, Switzerland in November 2002. Our voices are now being carried to all the Pre-Assembly Consultations. We, as participants of this Global Consultation rejoiced, wept and celebrated together on several aspects of healing; through spirituality, through rituals in Christian tradition, through community building, justice and peace building and through healing in interpersonal relationships, The many worship styles, liturgies and the sharing of blessings in a variety of ways including the Eucharist became an important aspect of experiencing the gifts of women and the richness as a communion. It also enabled us as women to name our wounds, to reflect on them to begin the healing process.

Diagnosis in Order to facilitate Healing

The call to be healed is heard even in the midst of our turbulent times. We recalled how Jesus wept when he saw the city of Jerusalem in its state of war, hunger, sickness and turmoil (Luke 19: 41-42). He saw OPPORTUNITIES for peace-building for the city and its people and wept because the people of Jerusalem did not see those opportunities. Therefore we emphasize that the wounds of the world need not discourage us but can help us to recognize opportunities for partnership with God in healing. With 'soft eyes' we are re-imaging the splendor of transformation which 'hardened eyes' do not see.

Naming the Wounds: There is no healing without naming what ails us. We, as women, name these wounds that spoil the image of God in us.

Violence

* We reaffirm the LWF Council voting in 2001 that "We urge the member churches to translate the document "Churches say NO to Violence Against Women" into local languages, and facilitate distribution to all heads of churches, lay leaders, pastors in congregations in all member churches, seminaries and to women leaders as a matter of urgency" We request the following aspects of it be paid particular attention to:

--Domestic violence

--Clergy Abuse

--Institutional Violence and

--Trafficking of Women and Children

* We urge the churches to play a proactive role in mobilizing support for the reduction of weapons of mass destruction through out the world and to persistently keep up the vision that there is power in non-violence and it is possible to live non-violently.

HIV/AIDS Pandemic

* We entreat that its gender dimension be intentionally be focused in all initiatives.

Structures and systems in the church

We recognize that there have been wounds of exclusions. Women want to be genuinely accepted as representatives and leaders of the church as laity and ordained.

* There is a need to go beyond the stage of having women's presence or participation to genuinely according our rightful place in designing policies, in the administration and in leadership.

* While acknowledging that dialoguing must continue within the Lutheran tradition, ecumenically and among faith communities, we look for focussing on commonalties and ways we could work together on issues as concrete practical ecumenism that is experienced at local level.

* We particularly emphasize that the member churches should live up to their commitments of affirming and promoting the leadership of women. Our policies and our negotiations should be signs and our practices be expressions of such commitments.

* The churches need to address the issue of sexuality and power more systematically and use gender as a tool for analysis to identify the disparities. Our words and the way we live out should be expressions of inclusive communion.

Ordination of Women

It is painful that one-third of the LWF communion churches do not ordain women.

* While we acknowledge that there is need for patience we also see the need for perseverance and an openness to share and learn from experiences of women in ordained ministry, the difficulties some churches genuinely feel and to strategically move towards becoming a visible expression of being an inclusive communion by ordaining women in all member churches.

Economic Globalization

Women are facing poverty in a very personal way with rampant promotion of injustices, but have little knowledge of these in spite of experiencing its worst consequences. Feminization of poverty, feminization of jobs, and Feminization of migration lead to women being in unorganized sectors that increase exploitation, trafficking and sex industry.

* Impoverishment, its causes and consequences on people need to be analyzed by churches as a crucial justice issue that should lead to mobilizing solidarity movements.

* Redefining both individual and corporate sin in our context is essential.

* The churches need to promote an ethic for sustainable life styles that affirms fullness of life for all of creation and facilitate women to be active participants in countering economic globalization.

Culture

We identify 'Role stereotyping' as one of our wounds and desire to seek new ways to empower and use our cultures as a way to bond and weave us together as women. Harmful traditional practices and myths needs to be openly condemned by the churches. New forms of masculine models needs to be uplifted

Religious Conflict

Religious conservatism is threatening to set back the advances women have made.

* Religious motivated conflicts need interfaith and intra-faith dialogue that should be reflected at ground level and matched with actions on issues that unite us. We need to look for commonalties rather than at our differences

Environmental Destruction

We particularly point this as an issue that churches need to explore and respond to.

How Can Healing Take Place?

We affirm that as church we are one and we feel the same pain. "If one member suffers, all suffer together." (I Cor. 12:26). Therefore we urge the LWF and its member churches to facilitate the healing process among women by:

* sustaining the programs of and on women,

* continuing to provide education on economic literacy, health, language and leadership,

* providing cross cultural education, and

* continuing with promotion of human rights and the human rights mechanisms.

Above all, we request the churches to identify different ways of healing; through liturgies, liturgical language, through lectionaries and by concentrating in designing the type of theological education that provides knowledge, skills and scope to be involved in all aspects of living.

How Can the LWF Communion be Healthy?

We entreat all member churches to name the wounds as openly as we did, so that each church in its context can begin the healing process. We re-emphasize the following and call on the Churches to:

* Take seriously the voices of women and not to simply acknowledge their presence. Include women representatives and officials in church committee meetings to avail their insights and resources.

* Actively listen and respond when women name their concerns (wounds).

* Consult with women who are active in women's ministry when selecting women to represent the church at LWF and other events.

* Facilitate the networking of women by providing the necessary infrastructure.

* Name the disintegration of the family as a wound and open up for discussions the questions of sexuality, power, and acknowledge the changing face of the family.

* Include HIV/AIDS awareness especially its gender dimension in all Christian education programs, for children and youth.

* Proactively be involved in gender training for all congregations and specifically for church leadership and

* Reclaim the biblical concept of 'Shalom'.

Our daily confession creates hope and restores relationships and living conditions. We urge all to take this task as a sign that God lives in us and we in God and to work towards healing and wholeness for the whole of God's creation.
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Title Annotation:Lutheran World Federation
Publication:Women Magazine
Geographic Code:4EXSI
Date:Jul 1, 2003
Words:1245
Previous Article:Women's rights and the economics of war.
Next Article:North America: Denver, USA, January 22nd-23rd.
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