13 SEP 2023
Archbishop Musa urges churches to practice respectful listening and to be beacons of hope in fragmented world
(LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) President Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa urged delegates at the opening of the Thirteenth Assembly in Kraków, Poland, to “hold onto unity and hope in our common journey as [a] communion of churches.” In a world “crowded with diverse voices and the risk of division,” he insisted, churches must continue to practice “respectful listening” to remain beacons “of hope amidst complexity, uncertainty and changing ideologies.”
“One Body, One Spirit, One Hope,” is the theme of the Assembly hosted by the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland (ECACP). Addressing the opening plenary session of the 13 to 19 September gathering, the outgoing president looked back at challenges faced by churches since the last Assembly in Windhoek, Namibia, in 2017. He spoke about the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, remembering all those who died, but also recalling the solidarity and resilience shown by member churches and by the LWF as an organization.
In a divided and fragmented world, he said, “supporting one another, worshipping together” as well as “serving the world together” are “signs of our communion and its vibrancy amid the many challenges we face.” This vibrancy was evident when the LWF was founded in the wake of the Second World War, he noted, and it remains vital as churches continue to respond to the call “to support people in need and work for peace and reconciliation” in today’s world.
Our task is to discern and nurture this unity, witnessing to the liberating grace of God.
LWF President Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa
President Musa talked about the “turbulent history” of Poland and in particular the Lutheran communities which have lived through “times of flourishing and times of oppression.” Noting that the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland makes up just 0.1 percent of the population, he stressed that “our communion has never been about numbers” but about “faithful witness to Christ.” Churches facing declining memberships in other parts of the globe, he said, can be enriched by the minority experiences of the host church.
Musa, who is the Archbishop of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, reflected on the meaning of being a global communion, with members drawn from so many countries, cultures, ethnicities and Lutheran traditions, “with many different experiences and sensibilities.” Yet through “the immeasurable riches of God’s grace,” he affirmed, “we have been brought together to be “co-participants in the One Spirit to God’s plan of reconciliation.”
Over the coming days, Musa continued, Assembly delegates will be focusing on what he called “essential, deep-down unity and the hope that it inspires.” This unity “is not uniformity or compliance or compromise,” but rather it is the work of the One Spirit “that is always creating, reconciling, renewing.” Our task, he added “is to discern and nurture this unity, witnessing [….] to the liberating grace of God.”