Vatican News staff writer
The Council of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has elected Estonian pastor Anne Burghardt as general secretary of the global communion of Lutheran Churches. She will assume the position of new General Secretary in early November. She succeeds the Rev. Dr Martin Junge, who has led the communion of 148 churches for the past 11 years.
First woman to serve in this role
Rev. Burghardt, 45, married to Rev. Arnd Matthias Burghardt, also a pastor of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the mother of two children, is currently head of the development area of the Institute of Theology of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church and the church's advisor for international and ecumenical relations. From 2013 to 2018, Rev. Burghardt served as secretary for ecumenical relations at the Geneva offices of the Lutheran Federation. She is also a member of the board of directors of the Conference of European Churches. She is the first woman and first representative from Central and Eastern Europe to hold this position.
Burghardt: "Humbled by this great honor"
After the election, the new secretary said she was " humbled by this great honor and deeply grateful for the confidence that the Council members" have shown in her. " In accepting this very special responsibility," she said, "I pray for the guidance of God’s Spirit," and "our communion so that it may be a blessing to the wider church and to the world”.
The joy of the World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches (WCC) commented on the news expressing "joy and encouragement." Rev. Ioan Sauca, acting secretary general of the WCC, reiterated his desire to "continuing the close collaboration" already present between the two bodies. Through the election of Rev. Burghardt, Sauca wrote in an open letter to the newly elected, "the LWF Council has recognized your proven skills as a pastor, an advocate for witness and service and a champion of lively partnerships in the quest for Christian unity and the building of human community despite borders and boundaries."