Delegates are gathered at Mansfield College, Oxford, which has longstanding ties to Lutheran communities in Britain
(LWI) - Delegates from the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches across Europe are gathering in the English city of Oxford this week for the first regional Pre-Assembly ahead of the global Thirteenth Assembly in Poland in September. The European Pre-Assembly takes place from 21 to 24 March, hosted by the Lutheran Church in Great Britain (LCiGB).
Over a hundred representatives from Lutheran churches in the three European regions - Western, Eastern and Nordic – are meeting at Mansfield College, Oxford, which has enjoyed close ties to the local Lutheran community since the Second World War. At that time, the principal of the College, founded as a ‘non-conformist’ institution to allow students who were not members of the Church of England to study at the university, was supportive of the German churches’ struggle against the Nazi regime.
At the end of the war, Lutheran refugees from Eastern Europe and the Baltics joined the many Germans who had fled to England, leading to the formation in 1948 of what is today known as the Council of Lutheran Churches (CLC). Together with the LWF, it helped to fund a tutorship at Mansfield College for the training of Lutheran clergy to serve this growing, yet very diverse community.
Student chaplaincy and sanctuary scholarship
Today, the Council brings together churches from nine national churches including the Lutheran Church in Great Britain, which offers worship in various languages for believers who come from many different parts of the globe. From its London headquarters, the Council also funds a student chaplaincy and a new scholarship at Mansfield College, offering the possibility of a master's study program for modern-day refugees seeking sanctuary in the United Kingdom.
CLC General Secretary Dr Anna Krauss said she was delighted to be collaborating with the Lutheran Church in Great Britain to host the first Pre-Assembly. “Like the LWF, we were founded in response to the refugee crisis in Europe and we are celebrating our 75th anniversary this year,” she said. “From those origins, the Council has worked consistently to integrate people from many different languages, cultures and backgrounds, with a strong focus on inclusion and social justice” she added.
The Pre-Assembly opens with a worship service in Mansfield College chapel to which ecumenical guests from other Christian churches have been invited. A meeting of LWF youth delegates took place ahead of the plenary sessions, which will focus on preparations for the Krakow Assembly and its theme ‘One Body, One Spirit, One Hope’. Before the adoption of a concluding message on Friday, participants will hear from leaders of the Lutheran church in Ukraine and neighboring countries about the ongoing response to the war and support for those who have fled from the conflict.
LWF’s Regional Secretary for Europe Rev. Dr Ireneusz Lukas said: “We are very glad to be here in England for this Pre-Assembly because, back in 2020, we were planning to hold our European Church Leadership Consultation in Oxford. As LWF, post Brexit, we wanted to show our solidarity and connectedness with the LCiGB, regardless of any political decisions affecting churches in the region.”
“Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, that Consultation could not take place. We are therefore delighted that, after three years, we can come together in this place which enjoys such long and rich connections to the LWF. As we prepare for the forthcoming Assembly, we look forward to hearing more about the challenges of the church in this country, with its breadth of cultural and linguistic backgrounds which, in many ways, reflects the realities of the LWF.”
Photos from the Pre-Assembly
The Thirteenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation takes place 13-19 September 2023 in Krakow, Poland. The theme of the Assembly will be "One Body, One Spirit, One Hope." It will be hosted by the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland.