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Saturday, 31 July 2010

Palestinian to Head the Lutheran World Federation


Bishop Munib Younan (above right) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), was elected on Saturday 24 July to beh the President of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). He received 300 votes (there were 23 against and 37 abstentions). The LWF is a global family of over 120 Churches. I have known Bishop Younan for many years, beginning from my first visits to the Holy Land. He is a passionate voice for justice and peace, not only in his homeland the Middle East, but around the world.

His election is good news for Anglican-Lutheran relations here in Europe, strengthened in recent years by the Porvoo and Meissen agreements. Bishop Younan is a strong advocate of the ecumenical commitments of the LWF; he is personally well aquainted with ecumenical life in our continent. After his ordination he studied and earned a degree in Helsinki, and speaks fluent Finnish!

In his acceptance speech, Bishop Younan recalled that he was first introduced to the LWF through a cup of chocolate milk. He and his family were Palestinian refugees in the 1950s. At the Martin Luther School in Jerusalem, through a gift of the LWF, a daily cup of chocolate milk was offered to the students. Bishop Younan explained, “The chocolate milk physically nourished us refugees and was the answer to our prayer, ‘Give Us Today Our Daily Bread.’ It also nurtured in us knowledge of the theology of the Lutheran communion; it taught us about God’s love.” His election to the LWF's top post will give the dimished and beleagered Arab Christian community in the Holy Land and other countries new courage.

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