Anne Burghardt, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), visited the United States during the first week of February. Her trip began Feb. 1 at the Lutheran Center in Chicago, where she met and worshiped with ELCA leadership and staff.
During a session with ELCA communicators Burghardt shared her thoughts on what the ELCA and the larger Lutheran community have to offer in a fraught global moment. “The Lutheran church has a big gift, which is its theology—the ability to not give very simplistic answers but to bolster critical thinking,” Burghardt said. “In today’s complex world people are often looking for simplistic answers just in order to feel secure, but this is not necessarily what brings us forward.
“So, through fostering critical thinking and really not being afraid of asking difficult questions, I believe Lutherans have a lot to offer, not only to their own church members but also to the wider society. Another important aspect I’d like to highlight is the understanding of God’s holistic mission, as it is expressed through proclamation, worship, diakonia and public witness. As much as I have seen from the life and work of the ELCA, there is a strong understanding that our participation in God’s holistic mission needs to be supported and strengthened, as this is one of the primary callings of the church.”
“The Lutheran church has a big gift, which is its theology—the ability to not give very simplistic answers but to bolster critical thinking.”
Burghardt next traveled to New York City, where she met with United Nations representatives and diplomats, including Martin Griffiths, U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator; Miguel Ángel Moratinos, high representative for the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations; and Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukrainian ambassador to the U.N.
She expressed LWF’s solidarity with Ukraine, discussed the communion’s ongoing support of refugees from Ukraine and emphasized the need for postwar reconstruction in the country. The LWF partners with the U.N. in many areas of humanitarian work, including support for refugees and human rights.
Burghardt also helped launch a report on the LWF’s advocacy around COVID-19 and met with Azza Karam, secretary general of the interfaith organization Religions for Peace, to discuss the role of faith communities in the work for peace. Her time in New York concluded with a visit to Saint Peter’s Church, where Burghardt preached.
The visit ended in Washington, D.C., where Burghardt met Feb. 6 with LWF partners and lawmakers, including representatives of the U.S. Agency for International Development, staff of the U.S. Department of State, and aides to U.S. senators Susan Collins and Patty Murray. A key item on Burghardt’s D.C. agenda was affirming the work of Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem, which provides lifesaving services to Palestinians.