13th Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation in Kraków, September 13-19, 2023

Elke Leypold, Prof. em. Dr. Theodor Dieter and Pastor Dr. Frank Zeeb from the Strasbourg Institute took part in the Assembly. The hospitality of the Polish Lutheran Church was overwhelming and the Assembly was perfectly organized. The visits to the congregations left a lasting impression of a very lively, committed church. The tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was a painful reminder of the darkest and most guilt-ridden years of German history.

The Institute had its own stand at the Jarmark with a PowerPoint presentation and numerous publications. This gave us the opportunity to meet many people who had taken part in our summer seminars in Strasbourg or who had participated in the November seminars "Studying Luther in Wittenberg" at the LWF Center there (where Theodor Dieter and Sarah Hinlicky Wilson have been teaching for 13 years). The reunion with so many people showed something of the fruits that our work has borne over the years. On the other hand, we were able to familiarize many participants in the General Assembly, especially colleagues from the Global South, with the work of the Institute. In this, we met with great interest.

We offered three workshops on major ecumenical projects: the Catholic-Lutheran document "From Conflict to Communion", which has been translated into almost 20 languages and has helped Catholics and Lutherans in many countries around the world to commemorate the Reformation together; the "Healing of Memories" project between Mennonites and Lutherans with reconciliation at the 11th Assembly in Stuttgart in 2010 (both Theodor Dieter); and the declaration of church communion between Lutheran and Reformed and later also Methodist churches in Europe: the "Leuenberg Agreement" (Frank Zeeb).

It is doubtful whether the main lectures with two additional co-lectures could really provide orientation. The village groups gave participants the opportunity to get to know each other better and bring many voices into the discussion. Even though the one body, the church, was an essential element in the theme of the Assembly "One Body - One Spirit - One Hope", ecumenism was not present as a theme throughout; the ecumenical podium on the last day seemed disconnected from what had gone before. The variety of music in the services and devotions was inspiring. And: It is always nice to experience the Lutheran world family at an Assembly.


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