The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Council has elected Estonian theologian Rev Anne Burghardt as the next General Secretary of the global communion of Lutheran churches.

The first woman and the first Central-Eastern European to hold this leadership position, Rev Burghardt is currently serving as Head of Development for the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church’s (EELC) Institute of Theology and advisor to the church for international and ecumenical relations.

She will take over as LWF’s new General Secretary at the beginning of November, succeeding Rev Dr Martin Junge, who has led the communion of 148 member churches for the past 11 years. The LCA is an associate member of the LWF.

Following the announcement last month, Rev Burghardt said she was ‘humbled by this great honour’.

‘In accepting this very special responsibility in the communion, I pray for the guidance of God’s Spirit’, she said. ‘I rejoice in having the possibility to work with the council, with member churches, and with different partners, as the LWF continues to participate in God’s holistic mission. May God bless our communion so that it may be a blessing to the wider church and to the world.’

LWF President Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa congratulated Rev Burghardt on her election. ‘She will be taking up a vital role in the leadership of our global communion of churches, helping to shape its ongoing journey and witness to the gospel, working for peace, justice, and reconciliation’, he said. ‘Rev Burghardt brings her valuable experience and gifts into the position, and I look forward to working with her.’

At the EELC Institute of Theology, Rev Burghardt has worked on strengthening Lutheran theological education as an integral part of the sustainability of the church.

She also has a depth of experience in ecumenical relations, having served as Study Secretary for Ecumenical Relations at the LWF’s Geneva Communion Office from 2013 to 2018 and as a current governing board member of the Conference of European Churches.

Rev Burghardt was content coordinator for the LWF Twelfth Assembly, held in Windhoek, Namibia in 2017, and for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

She studied theology at the University of Tartu in Estonia, at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany, and at the Humboldt University in Berlin. She has a Master of Theology and is currently finishing PhD studies in the field of Orthodox liturgics. She is married to Rev Arnd Matthias Burghardt, also an ordained pastor of the EELC, and they have two children.

Rev Burghardt and Zimbabwean pastor Rev Dr Kenneth Mtata were shortlisted for the general secretary’s position earlier last month by a search committee appointed by the LWF Council.

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