Lutheran World Federation Elects 8th General Secretary

( [email protected] ) Oct 27, 2009 02:58 PM EDT
The governing body of the Lutheran World Federation elected its eighth general secretary Monday after delaying the scheduled vote late last week.
Rev. Martin Junge, LWF general secretary-elect (LWF / H. Putsman Penet)

The governing body of the Lutheran World Federation elected its eighth general secretary Monday after delaying the scheduled vote late last week.

The Rev. Martin Junge from Chile was elected for a seven-year term during a closed session of the LWF Council, which has been meeting since Thursday at Chavannes-de-Bogis near Geneva, Switzerland.

Junge’s election marks the first time someone from the Latin America and Caribbean region has been called to LWF’s highest position and took place days after the LWF Council asked the seven-member search committee “to make every effort to bring an additional name of a candidate” for consideration.

Though the LWF did not specify in advance when exactly the postponed vote would take place, it did say an election would still be held before the conclusion of this month’s council meeting, which wraps up Tuesday.

For the past several days, the LWF Council has been gathered together with around 75 representatives from LWF member churches and partner organizations to discuss the business of LWF and to consider a number of proposals, including recommendations for renewal within the communion and a proposed action with regard to the legacy of Lutheran persecutions of Anabaptists.

The council – which comprises the president, treasurer and 48 persons elected by the LWF Assembly, the communion’s highest decision-making body – is responsible for the business of LWF and meets between the Assembly’s once-in-six-years gatherings.

With the election of 48-year-old Junge, the LWF now has a successor to current LWF General Secretary the Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko, who announced during the June 2008 Council meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, his intention to conclude his service on Oct. 31, 2010.

As the first African to hold the position of general secretary in the LWF, Noko has been serving as the communion's chief ecumenical officer since his election in June 1994, spending much of the time relating to Christian world communions and communities of other religious traditions in addition to administrative responsibilities.

One of Noko's most notable accomplishments has been his role in leading the process that resulted in the October 1999 signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification between the LWF and the Roman Catholic Church. Noko has also been responsible for international affairs in contact with governments and political leaders.

Junge, who was president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile from 1996 to 2000, has been serving as the area secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean at the LWF Department for Mission and Development (DMD) since September 2000.

The Chilean pastor and theologian's key achievements as DMD area secretary include the strengthening and refocusing of the LWF’s programmatic work in the region, and the implementation and structuring of the advocacy program launched by Latin American LWF member churches to deal with the problem of illegitimate foreign debt in the region.

Since 2008, Junge has been pursuing a diploma in the management of not-for-profit organizations at the "Verbandsmanagement Institut” (VMI) of the University of Freiburg in Switzerland.

Junge is married, and has two children.