Lutheran general secretary questions Swiss visa ruling

By Peter Kenny
19 Jun 2011

The refusal of Swiss authorities to grant a visa to a member of the Lutheran World Federation Council has put a question onto the ability of the communion’s main governing body to function as an international organisation, says LWF General Secretary, the Rev Martin Junge.

Junge was speaking to journalists at the closing press conference of the LWF’s Council 9 to 14 June meeting in Geneva. He commented on the refusal to grant a visa to A. Elijah Zina, aged 29, a youth representative on the Council who had also been refused a visa to attend the LWF Assembly in Stuttgart in July 2101.

“We feel that we are curtailed in the international city of Geneva and we have raised this concern,” said Junge noting that the decision raises a perception about the credibility of Mr. Zina, his Lutheran Church in Liberia and of the Geneva-based LWF itself.

“In our 64-year history we have always been able to hold to the commitment that people who come to our meeting will come back,” said Junge, He noted earlier that had raised with Swiss authorities the difficulties for international organisations with regard to obtaining visas for meetings.

At the same press conference, Eun-Hae Kwon, of the Lutheran Church of Korea, an executive committee member and LWF vice president said, “The LWF Communion is committed to being an inclusive community where youth and women are active and equal participants. Unfortunately, today and during the 2010 LWF Assembly in Stuttgart, Germany, we, the youth participants, are and were not whole.

“Mr Elijah Zina, our colleague from Liberia was unable to be with us in Germany and also at this meeting in Switzerland. We grieve the loss of his valuable contributions, and hope that in future meetings, we might be able to welcome and know him.”

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© Peter Kenny is the former editor-in-chief of ENInews. He has covered the LWF Council for Lutheran World Information, but has written this piece for Ekklesia.

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