Lutheran statement expresses ‘deep regret’

The Council of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has taken another critical step toward reconciliation with Anabaptists.

At its October meeting near Geneva, the council unanimously recommended that the LWF Eleventh Assembly adopt the statement, “Action on the Legacy of Lutheran Persecution of ‘Anabaptists’,” when it meets in Stuttgart, Germany, in July 2010.

The statement expresses “deep regret and sorrow” for the 16th-century violent persecution of Anabaptists by Lutherans. It asks for forgiveness from God and from Mennonites for past wrongs done to them, for having forgotten or ignored this persecution, and for continuing to describe Anabaptists in damaging ways.

The statement also speaks to how Lutherans will remember this persecution and how the Lutheran confessional legacy will be interpreted in the future.

This action comes in response to the work of the Lutheran-Mennonite International Study Commission, established in 2002. The joint commission’s report, based on its work from 2005–2009, and the LWF council’s action will be sent to Lutheran churches for discussion and response before the
2010 assembly.

Larry Miller, Mennonite World Conference general secretary, a guest at the Geneva event, welcomed the action “in a spirit of celebration and prayer,” and brought greetings from the 15th MWC assembly gathered in Asunción, Paraguay, in July.

—Ferne Burkhardt, MWC

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