Lutherans to seek Mennonite forgiveness for historic persecution

By staff writers
July 20, 2010

The Lutheran World Federation assembly meeting in Stuttgart from today is likely to adopt a historic statement asking for forgiveness from Mennonites for the persecution of Anabaptists by Lutherans in the 16th century, and for the legacy of such condemnations to the present day.

The statement's reception is planned for a plenary session on Thursday 22 July which will include participation of an international delegation from the Mennonite World Conference, led by the organisation's president, the Rev Danisa Ndlovu of Zimbabwe.

Mennonites, one of the 'historic peace churches', along with the Church of the Brethren and Quakers, are expected to respond with the gift of an old basin used in the characteristic Anabaptist practice of foot-washing.

A service of repentance will follow.

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) assembly agenda also includes three public hearings regarding climate change and food security, illegitimate debt, and HIV and AIDS.

Planners say that worship will be an important feature of the gathering. The opening and closing Eucharist services will take place in Stuttgart's Stiftskirche. Each day begins with Bible study and Eucharist, and plenary sessions break and conclude with evening or mid-day prayers.

Deliberation on the meeting's content occurs in "village groups," where participants shape proposed commitments and directions for assembly consideration, says the LWI news service.

In addition to election of a new president, the assembly will elect members of the LWF Council, the governing body which guides the organisation's work between assemblies. At its conclusion the assembly will issue a final message establishing priority areas for the Federation's extensive programmatic work.

There are over 70 million Lutherans throughout the world, and some 1.3 million Mennonites.


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