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July 24, 2010

Palestinian Bishop Munib A. Younan Elected President of the Lutheran World Federation; Known as Passionate Campaigner for Peace and Inter-Faith Dialogue in the Middle East

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 140 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.

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See the Assembly Web site for more information and resources including the theme video for downloading and other video reflections; news stories, features, photos and blog feeds; the handbook, Assembly Updates and Study Materials: www.lwf-assembly.org

About 1,000 people - including 418 delegates from member churches - are participating in the Assembly which takes place in the Liederhalle convention center in Stuttgart. Participants also include invited ecumenical observers, official visitors, interpreters and translators, stewards, members of the LWF staff and co-opted staff, accredited journalists and volunteers. The event is hosted by the Lutheran Church in Württemberg.

The Assembly is the highest decision making body of the LWF, held approximately every six years. The last Assembly was held in Winnipeg, Canada in July 2003 on the theme For the healing of the world .

The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF now has 145 member churches in 79 countries around the world, representing more than 70 million Christians. LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas of ecumenical and interfaith relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication and the various aspects of mission and development. Its secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada's largest Lutheran denomination with 152,500 baptized members in 607 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

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