The ACT Alliance of churches' aid agencies has announced the appointment of the Rev Dr Rebecca S. Larson as deputy General Secretary, as from 1 March 2011.
Since 2002 Dr Larson has served as executive director of the Church in Society programme unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
ACT is an alliance of more than 100 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance and development. The alliance, based in Geneva, works in 140 countries worldwide.
Dr Larson has said she is looking forward to her new role with the global network.
"There are few organisations which can match its capacity to link the global scope and grassroots presence of churches and church-related organisations," she explained, adding: "The ELCA plays a key role in the global response of the ACT Alliance through its World Hunger Programme."
She continued: "Eight years ago I came to the ELCA because I was compelled by its commitment to 'step forward as a public church that witnesses boldly to God’s love for all that God has created.'"
"In that time I have had the privilege to work with an astonishingly creative and committed staff team who come to work every day because they believe that this church can make a difference in the lives of people who are most marginalised or living in poverty," Dr Larson declared.
"Our baptismal vocation presses us, sometimes uncomfortably, to move into the midst of human life and suffering."
Dr Larson brings to her new call "global experience with the Lutheran World Federation, her gifts as a theologian, her exceptional abilities to work in varied global contexts with attentiveness and commitment to accompanying people in building sustainable communities," the Rev Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, said. "She also appreciates the increased capacity of churches to be engaged in disaster response when churches work together with relief and development agencies."
Before she joined the ELCA churchwide organisation, Dr Larson lived and worked in Geneva. From 1994 to 2002 Larson was programme executive for research and development education with the Lutheran World Federation.
Before that she served five years with the World Council of Churches as programme executive for development education in the council's Unit on Justice, Peace and Creation.
Dr Larson has also served as pastor of a Lutheran congregation in Edmonton, Alberta, USA, and has been an elementary school teacher. Her husband is also a minister.