The Lutheran World Federation has chosen Palestinian Bishop Munib A. Younan, a campaigner for peace, justice and inter-faith dialogue, as its next president - writes Peter Kenny.
The 59 year-old bishop was the only candidate for the post and becomes the first Arab to lead the Geneva-based body that groups 70 million Protestants worldwide.
He was elected on 24 July 2010 at the LWF's 11th assembly, its highest decision-making body, meeting in Stuttgart, Germany, from 20 to 27 July.
Younan told delegates he was introduced to the LWF as a refugee when he drank chocolate milk at the Martin Luther School in Jerusalem and that this 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 on 24 July.
Younan will replace Mark Hanson, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, who has served a seven-year period as president of the LWF. Younan's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land with 3000 members 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.
Younan was ordained in 1976 after studying theology in Finland. He also studied at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He speaks Finnish as well as Arabic and English.
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]