STUTTGART, Germany (RNS/ENInews) The Lutheran World Federation has chosen Palestinian Bishop Munib A. Younan as its next president, the first Arab to lead the Geneva-based umbrella group for 70 million Lutherans.
Younan, 59, was elected on Saturday (July 24) at the LWF's 11th assembly in Stuttgart. He succeeds the Rev. Mark Hanson, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, who held the post for seven years.
Younan told delegates he was introduced to the LWF as a refugee when he drank chocolate milk at the Martin Luther School in Jerusalem, an event that inspired him to enter the church ministry.
"That this election took place in Germany is especially meaningful and emotional for me, since my church grew out of the German mission to the Holy Land," Younan told delegates.
With just 3,0000 members, Younan's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land is one of the smallest of the LWF churches.
"It is essential that I as an Arab Christian can be used by other Christians for dialogue with people of other faiths so that we can have dialogue that can be for the benefit of all people. We carry that expertise," Younan told ENInews after his election.
He also said he hopes to use his post to advocate for the region's dwindling Christian population.
"Palestinian Christianity has survived 2,000 years," he said. "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."
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