Reformierter Weltbund: Jugend in der Evangelisch reformierten Kirche Lithauens soll sich als David gegen Goliath erheben
In Erinnerung an Calvin als jungen Reformator ermutigt Generalsekretär Nyomi die Reformierte Kirche in Lithauen, jungen Leuten Raum für ihre Begabungen zu geben
(WARC, 24. Juni 2009) Youth should be entrusted with church leadership positions a senior Reformed church executive has told leaders of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Lithuania.
Acknowledging recent problems with leadership in the Lithuanian church, the general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), told members of the church’s governing body that: “It took a very young man, David, to confront and slay Goliath, even though he did not have the giant’s stature.”
Evoking the story of the giant Goliath’s threats to the people of Israel, Setri Nyomi said, “Let us listen to our young people. They can inspire us to renew our commitment to God in a way that makes a difference.”
The comments were made in a sermon preached at a weekend [20/21. Juni 2009] worship service in the northeastern city of Birzai during the church synod’s annual meeting. In his remarks, Nyomi offered the biblical story of David and Goliath as an example of how young people can confront and overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges facing their people.
In the biblical account of the battle between David and Goliath, the young man draws on his faith in God for the courage to confront and fell his Philistine opponent armed with only a slingshot.
Nyomi expressed his appreciation for the work of the church’s current senior leader, General Superintendent Rimas Mikalauskas, saying: “In these times of transition, Rev. Mikalauskas is doing great work to rebuild the church and to keep it faithful to its mission.”
The synod was meeting in the context of worldwide celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Protestant Reformer, John Calvin. In a later presentation linked to the Calvin Jubilee, Nyomi referred to how young Calvin was at the time he was given responsibility for rebuilding the church in Geneva and urged older church members in Lithuania to “create space for young people to use their gifts, just as Calvin’s gifts were affirmed in his twenties.”
Roman Catholics make up 79 per cent of Lithuania’s population, followed by Eastern Orthodoxy at 4.9 per cent. Protestants represent 1.9 per cent of the population, with the largest number being Lutheran. The Reformed Church of Lithuania, first chartered over 450 years ago, lost most of its clergy and membership and all of its property following 1945 when Russia took over the country. When the country regained its independence in 1991, church property was returned. Since then, the church has struggled to rebuild. Today only a few of those church facilities have been restored; there are eight ordained clergy and a church membership of 10,000.
“My experience in the synod meetings told me this church has the ‘David spirit,’” Nyomi says. “The time is right for youth with their gifts of energy, vision and faith, to take up roles in the church and confront both its internal and external challenges.”
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