HAMBURG, November 19, 2010 – “I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers” (Ephesians 1:15-16).
It was with these words from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that the Rev. Dr. Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) and President of the Lutheran Federation (LWF) greeted Bishop Maria Jepsen on the occasion of her retirement in Hamburg, Germany in late November.
Younan further spoke, “We thank you always in our prayers for the partnership we have shared in the Gospel between our small but vibrant church [the ELCJHL] and the North Elbian Church.”
Younan was honored to be able to attend the celebration of Bishop Maria Jepsen’s service to the North Elbian Church as Bishop and to Lutheran churches worldwide since her election in April of 1992 as the first woman bishop in the Lutheran world.
“Ever since Martin Luther’s declarations concerning the priesthood of all believers, we have striven to uplift an inclusive and expansive model of the church.” Younan said, and continued, “Yes, there have been many cultural and societal barriers to overcome, and there are many more for us still to overcome, but as the new day dawned with your consecration as bishop, we rejoiced together with you, as the German church became an example for the whole world and the ecumenical community.”
Younan thanked Jepsen for her excellent pastoral leadership, her strong Lutheran identity, the way in which she was able to express the global nature of Lutheranism, and her ecumenical involvement.
“[Bishop Jepsen], you have offered all of us a good example: we cannot witness alone without our sisters and brothers from other confessions and from every continent. Yes, there are differences, but what we have in common is so much greater, for that which unites us is much more than that which divides us, and together our common witness brings the mission of Christ to the world. And so I say thank you.”