While I was riding my bike in Iowa, Palestinian Bishop Younan was elected president of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).
Here is a link to the LWF assembly news: http://www.lwf-assembly.org/experience/lwi-assembly-news/news-detail/article/520/8/neste/2/
And the story...
Palestinian Bishop Elected President of the Lutheran World Federation
Bishop Munib A. Younan is a Passionate Campaigner for Peace and Inter-Faith Dialogue in the Middle East
STUTTGART, Germany, 24 July 2010 – Bishop Munib A. Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) has been elected President of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) by the Eleventh Assembly here, a gathering of 418 delegates and others from the LWF member churches.
Three hundred and sixty registered delegates voted, representing 145 member churches from 79 countries. Rt Rev. Dr Younan received 300 votes affirming his election, 23 against; there were 37 abstentions. There were no other nominees.
Younan, 59, succeeds Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, who has been President of the LWF since the organization’s last Assembly in Winnipeg, Canada, in 2003.
Ordained in 1976 after study in Palestine and gaining a degree from Helsinki [Finland] University, Younan was a youth pastor and teacher in his homeland. From 1976 to 1979 he was pastor of the Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem and he has also served parishes in Beit Jala and Ramallah. He studied at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and he holds an honorary doctorate, granted by Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.
The president-elect has headed his church body since 1998 and was the third Palestinian bishop of the church founded by Germans in the nineteenth century and previously led by clergy from Germany. A member of the LWF since 1974, the ELCJHL has about 3,000 members.
The bishop was the first to translate the Augsburg Confession, a key document of the Lutheran Church, into Arabic.
Younan is a former vice-president of the LWF, is president of the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches and serves with three Jerusalem patriarchs and nine other bishops on the International Christian Committee of Jerusalem. He is also a co-founder of the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land, made up of the two chief rabbis of Israel, heads of the local churches, the Chief Judge of the Islamic Court in Palestine and other Muslim leaders.
He is the author of Witnessing for Peace, a book about the search for peace in his homeland and numerous articles on churches and the search for peace in the Holy Land.
His wife, Suad, is Director of the Helen Keller School in the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Hanina, which educates visually-impaired children. She is also the chair of the women’s committee of the ELCJHL.
The couple has three children and one grandchild.
“Who could imagine the Holy Land without Christians?” Younan asked -- see the story at this link: http://www.lwf-assembly.org/experience/lwi-assembly-news/news-detail/article/555/8/neste/1/
“Who could imagine the Holy Land without Christians?”
Pray that Christians not flee the Holy Land, says LWF president-elect
STUTTGART, Germany, 25 July 2010 – In his first sermon as president-elect of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Rt Rev. Dr Munib A.Younan told a congregation today that Christians should be “children of the light,” and urged them to “pray that Palestinian Christians may not lose faith and leave the country.” He was preaching at the Andreaskirche in Uhlbach, a suburb of Stuttgart.
Christ walked in the Holy Land, he said. “Who could imagine the Holy Land … without Christians?” the bishop asked. Younan is bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHC).
“We as Christians and especially as Lutherans have a role to play in the Middle East in reconciliation and interfaith dialogue,” the president-elect said.
“I sometimes ponder the fact that there have been Christians in Palestine since the first Pentecost,” he said, and added, “Now we Palestinian Christians are less than 1.5 per cent of the population.” Palestinian Christians leave their homeland for three reasons: “ the difficulties caused by the political conflict, a lack of jobs and growing political and religious extremism.”
“Even so,” he continued, “Palestinian Christianity has survived 2,000 years. We have never ruled the country, nor were we ever in the majority. We do not have much property, power, money or influence. Yet we have survived.”
That survival, he said, is because “we have carried the death and resurrection of our Lord in our bodies, souls and minds.” Palestinian Christians should be “brokers of justice, instruments of peace, ministers of reconciliation, defenders of human rights including women’s rights and apostles of love,” he said. The bishop has been active in a variety of inter-religious activities in his homeland and has held high positions in local ecumenical and inter-religious groups.
Christian love reaches across religious and ethnic boundaries, Younan told the congregation. He recalled being asked about a Christian woman who had been seen caring for a Muslim child. He had responded, “As Christians we are called to serve every human being regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion or political affiliation.”
Younan said that as “children of the light,” a phrase from the biblical book of Ephesians, Christians should work to promote justice, peace and reconciliation and “to eliminate Islamophobia, xenophobia and antisemitism.”
The bishop and several other visitors from the LWF Assembly were introduced to the congregation by Rev. Margarete Goth, pastor of the church situated amid Uhlbach’s famous vineyards and not far from the burial chapel with tombs of Wuertemberg royalty from previous centuries.
Younan’s term as LWF President begins as the Eleventh Assembly ends here 27 July.
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