STUTTGART, Germany (ELCA) — The Rev. Munib A. Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), has been elected president of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) July 24 at the LWF Assembly here. Younan received 300 votes affirming his election, 23 against and 37 abstentions. There were no other nominees.
Younan_LFWassembly_200The LWF Assembly, the organization’s highest legislative body, is meeting here July 20-27 under the theme “Give Us Today Our Daily Bread.” The LWF is 140 member churches in 79 countries, representing more than 70 million Christians worldwide.
     Younan succeeds the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), who has been president of the LWF since its 2003 assembly in Winnipeg, Canada.
     “Bishop Younan will provide exceptional leadership for the LWF. His leading the ELCHJ in the midst of the suffering of occupation will become a sign of hope for all LWF member churches,” said Hanson.
     Younan’s “passion for justice and peace will inspire us. His commitment to making visible the unity we have in Christ will build upon the LWF strong ecumenical commitments,” said Hanson.
     “Bishop Younan is modeling what it means to confront religious extremism by building strong interfaith relationships. He centers his ministry in the proclamation of the gospel through which God sets us free to serve our neighbor. It is a great joy to pass the mantle of leadership to my friend Bishop Munib Younan,” said Hanson.
     Ordained in 1976 after study in Palestine and earning 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 served parishes in Beit Jala and Ramallah.
     Younan studied at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) and holds an honorary doctorate from Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa. LSTC is one of eight ELCA seminaries; Wartburg is one of 27 ELCA colleges and universities.
     The president-elect has headed the ELCJHL since 1998, and he 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.
     Younan was the first to translate the Augsburg Confession, a key document of the Lutheran Church, into Arabic.
     A former vice-president of the LWF, Younan 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.
     Younan wrote Witnessing for Peace, a book about the search for peace in his homeland and wrote numerous articles on churches and the search for peace in the Holy Land.
     Younan’s wife, Suad, is chair of the ELCJHL’s women’s committee and serves as director of the Helen Keller School in Beit Hanina, a suburb of Jerusalem. The school educates visually-impaired children.
     The couple has three children and one grandchild.