Election marks first woman and first Central and Eastern European pastor to head global communion of churches
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 45-year-old 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.
Burghardt 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 eleven years. She will be the first woman and the first Central Eastern European to hold this leadership position.
Following the announcement, Burghardt said: “I am humbled by this great honor and deeply grateful for the confidence that the Council members have shown in me. In accepting this very special responsibility in the communion, I pray for the guidance of God’s Spirit. 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.”
Congratulating Burghardt on her election, LWF President Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa said: “I congratulate Rev. Burghardt on the 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. Rev. Burghardt brings her valuable experience and gifts into the position, and I look forward to work with her.”
At the EELC Institute of Theology she has worked on strengthening Lutheran theological education as an integral part of the sustainability of the church. She brings deep experience on ecumenical relations, having also served as Study Secretary for Ecumenical Relations at the LWF’s Geneva Communion Office from 2013-2018. 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 also serves as a governing board member of the Conference of European Churches.
Rev. Burghardt 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 Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church and they have two children.
Rev. Burghardt and Zimbabwean pastor Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata were shortlisted for the position earlier this month by a search committee appointed by the LWF Council, which elected her on 19 June.
Rev. Anne Burghardt received 28 votes (58%), Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata received 20 votes (42%). A total of 48 votes were cast. There were no abstentions.