Munib A Younan

Lutheran World Federation president Bishop Munib Younan from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land at the assembly. PICTURE: LWF/Albin Hillert.

Lutherans from across the world have gathered in Windhoek, Namibia, this week for the 12th Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation.

Almost 800 people from some 145 member churches around the globe, were expected to attend the week-long event which runs until 16th May and which will feature a special commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at the Sam Nujoma Stadium this Sunday. As many as 10,000 people are expected to attend.

The theme of the assembly is 'Liberated by God's Grace' with other 'sub-themes' being that creation, salvation and human beings are "not for sale".

LWF president, Bishop Dr Munib A Younan, told the gathering earlier this week that while it was important to remember the 16th century Reformation and the men and women who made it possible, “it is also essential that we seek out the spirit of freshness and freedom, with which the Holy Spirit moved then and continues moving today". 

He added later that Christians are called to follow the Spirit's work "on the margins of the world, proclaiming how God refuses to forget the weak and condemned, the betrayed and the occupied, those ignored by the centers of worldly power". 

Earlier, Rev Dr Elena Bondarenko of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in European Russia, told a service that God’s promises "concern life and everyday existence, our daily bread and all our works, God’s promises open for us a truth that everything makes sense, all our deeds and even thoughts and feelings have a meaning, and the ultimate goal is that we, with all our thoughts and deeds, can be saved.”

Addressing the theme of the event, she added: “God’s gifts are not for sale. God gives us freedom and grace in abundance. God comes to save us in our time. And it is time to rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated, it is time to worship God according to the tradition, but also with our own, new song."

The event is being hosted by three LWF member churches in the country under the umbrella group the United Church Council – Namibia Evangelical Lutheran Churches (UCC-NELC). It's estimated that the three member churches - the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN), Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia - German Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCIN-GELC) - have a combined membership in Namibia of 1.2 million people, around half the country's population.