MAGDEBURG, GERMANY/JERUSALEM, 15 November 2011 –In early November, Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan was invited to attend and to speak at the Vereinigte Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche Deutschlands (VELKD) General Synod in Magdeburg, Germany.
While at the General Synod, Younan delivered a farewell speech for the outgoing Presiding Bishop Johannes Friedrich, whom Younan first met during the 1980s when Friedrich was serving as Propst at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem. Younan spoke to the spirit of accompaniment in which Friedrich has lived his life, and his lifelong commitment to both intra-church relations and ecumenical relations.
“Bishop Friedrich, from my view, you have set a benchmark for leadership within the German Churches… Whatever your position, we know that we will always have you as a brother in Christ—a brother to whom we can always turn, not because of particular interests, but because of our mutual love in Christ Jesus.”
“Bishop Friedrich, your humility, your clarity, and above all your love shown to all of us has touched our hearts.”
With great appreciation for his years of service, Younan presented Friedrich with a Mother-of-Pearl representation of the Holy Communion from the village of Beit Sahour—the village of the Christmas Shepherds—as “…a reminder of the centrality of our shared communion as we continue to grow together around the table in all our communion throughout the world/”
Younan also assisted in the installation of new Presiding Bishop Gerhardt Ulrich, from the Nordelbischen Evangelisch-Luterische Kirche (NEK).
On Friday, 4 November, Younan addressed the General Synod on behalf of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), speaking on grace, peace, and the prophetic call of the church in our world today both in Germany, in the Middle East, and as a global communion of churches.
Younan also spoke to the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation and it’s continuing influence and importance for the Lutheran church, thanking the VELKD and the German National Committee of the LWF for the anniversary preparations already underway, and for the active support and initiatives by regional and federal German authorities.
“The reformers’ view of the gospel’s importance for the Christian faith and the freedom of the Christian have remained an integral part of the Lutheran witness ever since [the reformation], and gives shape to our ecclesiology even today. It is appropriate, therefore, that the [500-year] commemoration has been designated by the LWF Council as Luther 2017: 500 Years of Reformation.”
In closing, Younan called upon the church to continue to “look toward the future of the church universal in the perspective of how our memories of conflicts, persecutions and divisions may continue to be healed.”
“Let us work diligently together,” Younan said, “so that the Christian World Communions, of which the LWF is one, may be given inspiration, hope and vision to seek the unity in that gospel which is ‘the church’s true treasure’ (Martin Luther).”