Bertha Godfrey Munkhondya became the first woman ordained to the ministry of word and sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi (ELCM) on Sept. 26.

In a congratulatory letter to the ELCM and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) communion of churches Munkhondya on behalf of the communion, LWF General Secretary Martin Junge expressed gratitude for Munkhondya’s willingness to serve the church as an ordained minister and for the ELCM’s commitment to gender justice.

“May Munkhondya’s ordination inspire girls and women to pursue theological education and respond to the call to ministry. Gender justice in the church and society is our shared commitment and our witness to the world,” Junge wrote.

“The LWF communion congratulates the church for the commitment and support to both women and men in theological studies, and we pray that many more women will receive support and be called to the ordained ministry,” LWF leadership continued.

Munkhondya, originally from Chisenga, Chitipa, Malawi, studied theology at the Tumaini University Makumira in Arusha, Tanzania, and will serve as associate pastor of the ELCM Cathedral in Lilongwe.

Munkhondya will serve as associate pastor of the ELCM Cathedral in Lilongwe.

Joseph P. Bvumbwe, bishop of the ELCM, presided at the event and delegations from the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (representing the LWF Communion) women’s groups from the dioceses of ELCM and state representatives participated in the ordination.

“The ELCM took time before it ordained a female pastor but there is full acceptance of Reverend Munkhondya,” Bvumbwe said. “We ask for your prayers for our church and encourage churches that are still meditating or discerning the process of ordaining female pastors.”

The ordination closed three days of the ELCM’s Women’s Conference being held in Lilongwe, Malawi.

The ELCM has been an LWF member church since 1988, has 111,000 members and is affiliated with the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa. It holds membership with the National Committee in Malawi.

This article first appeared at and is abridged and republished with permission.

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