Consultation on Indigenous Issues

Project at a glance

Dates and Place

20 - 24 September 2006, Karasjok, Norway

Organizers

The Lutheran World Federation

Participants

25 individuals, representing indigenous communities, representatives of LWF member churches and/or field programs who, though not themselves indigenous, have an acknowledged expertise on indigenous issues

Project details

An informal caucus of indigenous delegates from around the globe made a deep impression on the life of the Lutheran World Federation's (LWF) 10th Assembly, held in Winnipeg, Canada, on 21-31 July 2003. The Assembly consequently adopted a broad array of actions with reference to Indigenous Peoples. These actions, taken together, provide a comprehensive platform for a deeper and more mutual relationship with Indigenous Peoples in the life of the LWF communion.

The Assembly participants committed themselves and called on member churches to "acknowledge and seek the presence of indigenous peoples within the movement, take steps to affirm indigenous peoples as equal partners, and to challenge paternalistic patterns". They also committed themselves and called on member churches to continue to develop an understanding of the church's ministry of healing", with a special focus on marginalized and indigenous cultures". The Assembly noted that the communion as a whole has much to learn from Indigenous Peoples about sustainable agriculture and human "participation in and preservation of nature".

The Assembly also underlined the grave continuing concerns and challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples in relation to discrimination, self determination, economic globalization, land rights, preservation of traditional knowledge, language and cultural expression.

Moreover, the Assembly resolved to ask the LWF to initiate "a specific program for indigenous peoples facilitating networking through regional and international consultations and exchange programs, as well as initiate theological study processes related to gospel and culture and indigenous spiritualities, as far as possible in cooperation with other world confessional bodies and with the World Council of Churches." The LWF and its member churches were also asked to "support a process at the national, regional and international levels of protecting human rights of indigenous peoples, including land rights."

Purpose of the September 2006 Meeting

The purpose of the consultation is to bring together a group of individuals representing LWF member churches and/or indigenous communities from a wide range of geographic settings, in order to provide a forum for:

  • Encounter among participants representing a broad spectrum of indigenous experiences; 
  • Reflection on the contribution, present and potential, of indigenous communities and cultures to the life of the churches and the wider society (particularly in the fields of theology, culture, and environmental and social ethics);
  • Discussion of the concerns and challenges confronting Indigenous Peoples in different parts of the world today; and 
  • Formulating proposals on the ways in which the LWF could enhance its relationship with Indigenous Peoples, learn from their spirituality, ethics and traditional knowledge, and become a stronger voice of Indigenous Peoples in addressing their concerns and challenges.

Participants

The consultation participants will comprise approximately 25 individuals, representing indigenous communities that are either within the membership of the LWF member churches, or in partnership relations with LWF member churches or field programs. The consultation participants may also include representatives of LWF member churches and/or field programs who, though not themselves indigenous, have an acknowledged expertise on indigenous issues and a longstanding relationship with Indigenous Peoples on behalf of their churches/field programs. A strong emphasis will be placed on ensuring that participants are drawn from a very diverse spectrum of geographical/regional settings, and that the participants have a recognized status and acknowledged right to speak on behalf of their communities.

At least one representative of the World Council of Churches (WCC), responsible for the WCC's programs in this area, will also be included among the participants.

Program and methodology

Other than through the identification of the general purposes indicated above, the program of the consultation will be not be pre-defined but will provide an open space for encounter, sharing of experiences among the participants, the establishment of their own working style and rhythm, and the identification of their own perspectives and priorities. It will also include opportunities for encounter and cultural exchange with the local/host indigenous community.

Expected outcome, and follow-up

The consultation is expected to result in the establishment of an informal indigenous 'caucus', 'working group' or advisory group' within the LWF, which can assist the LWF in deepening its understanding of, responsiveness to, and advocacy for Indigenous Peoples around the world. It should be a step towards a much closer connection with the LWF's own indigenous constituency and partners, and an ongoing process of mutual accompaniment between the LWF's indigenous and non-indigenous constituencies on a communion-wide basis.

Follow-up will be defined after the consultation, in particular on the basis of recommendations made by the participants. However, it may be anticipated that the regular cycle of LWF regional church leaders' meetings and other LWF regional forums will be invited to reflect upon the outcome of the consultation.

About the Lutheran World Federation

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF now has 140 member churches in 78 countries all over the world representing 66.2 million Christians.

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