Jerusalem, 14 January 2017 – Gathered in Beit Jala, Palestine, the Synod of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) elected The Rev. Ibrahim Azar, pastor of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Jerusalem, as bishop-elect of the church.
In a democratic election, 38 voting members of the ELCJHL voted for Rev. Azar, the only candidate on the ballot, as the bishop-elect. The ELCJHL synod emerged following the vote.
During the synodical meeting, the members also elected The Rev. Samer N. Azar, pastor of The Evangelical Lutheran Good Shepherd Church, Jordan, as president of the synod, Mr. Anton Nassar, member of The Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church Bethlehem as deputy president, and Ms. Muna Tannous, member of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope Ramallah as secretary. The synod also elected a church council which is composed of The Right Rev. Dr. Bishop Munib Younan, synod president Rev. Azar, Mr. Ghessan Kasabrah, of Jerusalem, Mr. Adel Khader of Bethlehem, Mr. Rifat Qassis, and Mr. Issa Muraibe. All church council officials will serve a 5-year term.
“I am very happy that the unity of the church has been maintained. I will continue in my capacity as the bishop of the church to keep the unity that is a living witness for our church and for others,” Bishop Younan said.
Bishop-elect Azar was born June 22, 1961. Rev. Azar is a product of The Evangelical Lutheran Schools in Palestine, graduating from The Evangelical Lutheran School of Bethlehem in 1979. Rev. Azar earned his theology degree from Ludwig Maximillian University in Munich, Germany in 1987. He was ordained in 1988.
Rev. Azar is married to Nahla Elias Azar, and has three daughters, Sally, Sama and Jihan Azar.
Bishop Younan was consecrated Bishop of the ELCJHL in 1998 and is the third Palestinian bishop of the ELCJHL which was founded by Germans and had been previously led by German clergy.
Among his duties, Bishop Younan governs six Palestinian Lutheran churches and four schools developed for Palestinian children. He launched and built the church and pilgrimage center at the baptismal site on the Jordan River and oversees several other congregational and global developmental programs.
In 2010, Bishop Younan was elected president of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), a global communion of 145 churches in the Lutheran tradition represented in 98 countries.
The ELCJHL is one of the LWF member churches, serving approximately 3,000 local members.
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