At the Council meeting of the Lutheran World Federation in Arusha/Tanzania in June 2008, on the proposal of the DMD program committee, it was resolved to establish the LWF Center in Wittenberg. The GNC/LWF in Hanover was asked to take the necessary steps. In July 2008, Pastor Hans W. Kasch was appointed director and took office in Wittenberg on February 1st 2009. Since January 1st, 2012 Annette Glaubig is working as Project Assistant. From January 2014 onwards Pastor Joachim Zirkler is enhancing the team as Tutor of Studies.
500 years after the start of the Reformation there are Lutheran churches all over the world and this must also become visible within the framework of the anniversary. To this end, a recognizable participation of the LWF member churches is necessary in the organizational process and in the celebrations. That includes discussion of such questions as: what is the theological significance of the Reformation for our existence as a church? Which aspects of its historical consequences were of importance for our churches in the past and will be in the future?
The town of Wittenberg is the cradle of the Reformation. It is where Luther lived and taught; it is where the 95 theses, which essentially triggered the reformation process, were made public for the first time. The impetus which came from here had a determinative influence on the development of culture and philosophy in the modern age. Wittenberg is of growing importance in the ecumenical context. The town has been recognized as a place with which the Protestant churches identify; hence it was chosen as the host for the second step in the preparatory process for the Third Ecumenical Encounter at Sibiu in 2007. The Congress on the Future organized by the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) was also held in Wittenberg.
During the GDR period up to 1989, the Christians of Wittenberg also experienced difficult times which continue to have their effect in the secularization of society and the loss of Christian traditions. In the midst of political restrictions, however, the Christians of the GDR played a major part in enabling the changes in the political system to take place peacefully. Their experience can serve the Lutheran communion as an example of how churches can exercise their role as bridge builders in their own particular societies. Today the Christians in Wittenberg are a minority. They share this situation and the problems it entails with many others around the world.
The world as guests in Wittenberg
The LWF Center depends on the cooperation of the member churches. For this reason, the board of the Center includes representatives from Geneva, from the GNC context and from other member churches of the LWF and from the sector of teaching and research as well. At present, the churches in the USA, Hungary, Slovakia, Finland, Denmark and Estonia are represented. The local church and the EKD office are also part of it. The board meets at least once a year and "accompanies the work of the director of the Center and is responsible for the appropriate implementation of the LWF program" (cf. constitution of the board).
The budget for all projects. is covered by program funds from the LWF together with fund-raising from other sources. The expenditure for salaries and material is born by the VELKD and the GNC/LWF.
As a program of the LWF, the LWF Center is accountable for the use of program funds according to the normal criteria. Annual visits to the staff in Geneva ensure that it is linked with the LWF structures.