Holy Land Lutherans join world church body

(Photo: World Council of Churches)From left: Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary; Rev. Margaretha Hendriks-Ririmasse, WCC vice-moderator; Rev. Walter Altmann, WCC moderator; Bishop Munib A. Younan; and Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima; WCC vice-moderator after the WCC's executive committee voted to admit the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land to the WCC on March 6, 2013.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land is the newest member of the World Council of Churches.

The WCC's executive committee meeting from March 5 t0 8 at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey near Geneva voted to approve the full membership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land as its 349th member.

"The ELCJHL widely identifies with ministries of the World Council of Churches," the church's Bishop Munib A. Younan told the executive committee following the vote.

"We are honored to serve God's will through the essential ministries of the World Council of Churches," he said on Wednesday.

Younan, a Palestinian, was referring to his church's support of the WCC's Jerusalem Inter-church Centre, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel and the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum.

His church supports these ministries "because they show our people in Jerusalem, the Holy Land, and Jordan that their Christian sisters and brothers around the world stand with them, accompanying them in their sorrows and in their joys."

After a two-year process of considering the ELCJHL's application, the executive committee and the WCC's central committee accepted the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

During the process, many visits to Jerusalem churches took pace and discussions with other member churches in the surrounding area.

Younan, is the president of the Lutheran World Federation, which has its headquarters in Geneva's Ecumenical Centre where the WCC is based.

He noted, "In this age of globalization, we join with the churches in the world around us to be instruments of peace, harbingers of justice, and initiators of dialogue."

The Holy Land Lutheran church's roots go back to the 19th century when German and English missionaries came to teach and minister to the local people.

It has grown to five congregations in Amman, Jerusalem, Ramallah and the Bethlehem area. The churches in Amman and Ramallah have large families of refugees who fled their homes during the tragic wars after the creation of Israel. The ELCJHL now includes four schools and four education programs.

An updated count of WCC member churches will come after the WCC 10th Assembly being held in Busan, South Korea, Oct. 30 to Nov. 10, 2013.

The Geneva-based WCC's website says the council has has 349 churches with more than 560 million members.

Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News