The most significant ecumenical event of the summer occurred on July 22, when the Lutheran World Federation officially asked forgiveness from the Mennonite World Conference for the violent persecution of Anabaptists in the sixteenth century, for the ways in which the early Lutheran reformers supported these persecutions with theological arguments, and for the negative portrayals of Anabaptists and Mennonites that have continued in their communities and theological institutions. The text of the official LWF statement "Action on the Legacy of Lutheran Persecution of 'Anabaptists'" as drafted and approved by the LWF in advance of this summer's assembly is available online. Below is an unofficial transcript of the response by Mennonite World Conference President Danisa Ndlovu of Zimbabwe, courtesy of the blog of a Lutheran theologian attending the assembly of the LWF in Stuttgart:
“You seek forgiveness for what your forebears in the sixteenth century did to the Anabaptists, for forgetting about it in the intervening centuries, for misleading things said by Anabaptist authors…
“Are we worthy of this? We are painfully aware of our own inadequacies. We cannot come to this table with our heads held high. (choking up) We can only bow down in great humility and in fear of the Lord. We cannot come to this point and fail to see our own sinfulness. We cannot come to this point without recognizing our own need for God’s grace and forgiveness.
“At this time we are profoundly moved by your spirit of repentance and your act of seeking forgiveness, and we remember the prayer of George Blaurock, first baptized Anapbatist, later burned at the stake, who said, “I sincerely pray for all my enemies”… We believe that God has already heard and granted this Anabaptist prayer. We believe that God has heard and granted this appeal for forgiveness. We humbly and joyfully join with God in granting this gift of forgiveness. …God also is doing it in heaven. To God be the glory.
“In response we commit to promote the interpretation of the Lutheran-Anabaptist story, which we take seriously, the jointly told history in the report. We will take care that your initiative for reconciliation is known among us… We will continue deliberation on resolving the issues between our two communities, open to the movement of the Spirit. We will encourage our local churches and institutions to seek greater copperation and relation with Lutheran chruches for service to the world. Again we say to God be the glory.
“In the last supper Jesus gave a new commandment (quoting John 15). He gave them a physically embodied symbol of this new commandment (retells story of footwashing). Some Anabaptist and Mennonite churches have maintained this practice of footwashing. This tub and towl come from this tradition (offering them).
“We will learn to seek one another’s good from a posture of voluntary and mutual submission. This is how God’s transforming presence is made visible in the world. Amen.”