World Lutheran leader to get top German peace prize

(Photo: Peter Kenny / Ecumenical News)Rev. Martin Junge, general secretary of The Lutheran World Federation, talks to advocacy training meeting for faith-based organizations from around the world at Geneva's Ecumenical Center in Geneva on July 7, 2017

Rev. Martin Junge, general secretary of The Lutheran World Federation has been awarded the German city of Augsburg's 2017 Peace Prize for his work in connecting the "global north" and the "global south."

The Lord Mayor of Augsburg Dr. Kurt Gribl announced this year's recipient on August 8 before guests attending the annual Augsburg Peace Festival, in the Bavarian city's town hall.

The prize is awarded by the city every three years since 1985 recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to promoting peaceful coexistence of different religions and cultures.

Announcing the 2017 laureate, Mayor Gribl described Junge as a "patient bridge-builder between the continents, who, due to his theological influence and his roots, connects Europe as the global north and South America as the global south."

Regional Bishop Michael Grabow of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, responsible for the Augsburg district, and chairperson of the peace prize jury, praised Junge.

He said Junge, a Chilean who studied his theology in Germany is an expert on the theological and church tradition of European Lutheranism that is strongly inspired by Latin American theology.

"His thinking and acting links a conscious spiritual character of the church with an active responsibility for the world. At the same time, he is a powerful actor for a globally defined self-understanding of the Lutheran church," Grabow said.

"I feel honored and I'm grateful for the Augsburg Peace Prize. It encourages us in the Lutheran World Federation and me personally to continue on the path of reconciliation between churches and religions," Junge said upon receiving news about the award.

He said the prize, "is a fitting tribute to LWF's active ecumenical and interfaith engagement, from which I have learned that dialogue pays off."

Junge noted, "Whether it is between people or between communities of faith, sustained dialogue leads to growth in trust and mutual understanding, and is the key catalyst for overcoming differences."

He described the rapprochement between the LWF and the Roman Catholic Church over 50 years of dialogue as an important example.

"The 2016 Joint Commemoration of the Reformation in Lund by Lutherans and Catholics and the signing of the 'Wittenberg Witness' with the World Communion of Reformed Churches are important recent milestones to recommitting and expressing anew the spirit that inspired the Peace of Augsburg," Junge said.

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