“A Strong, Prophetic Voice for Peace and Justice”

Bishop Gerhard Ulrich’s installation in Schwerin, northern Germany. Photo: Wolfgang Pittkowski
Bishop Gerhard Ulrich’s installation in Schwerin, northern Germany. Photo: Wolfgang Pittkowski

LWF President at Inauguration of Bishop Ulrich in Northern Germany

SCHWERIN, Germany/GENEVA, 2 September 2013 (LWI) – The strong emphasis that Bishop Gerhard Ulrich has already demonstrated in listening to the different voices in the church and his respect for dialogue in ecumenical relationships are qualities that will strengthen communion within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany, which he serves as bishop.

Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, President of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) made these remarks at Ulrich’s installation on 25 August as the first bishop of the recently established church in northern Germany.

In his welcoming address, Younan, who is bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land said: “I would like to see a strong relationship between the church in Northern Germany, the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and churches in the South. In addition I would wish him (Bishop Ulrich) to be a strong and prophetic voice for peace and justice in the world.”

Members of the first leadership body of the church in Northern Germany were also inaugurated into office during the service attended by several representatives of the church’s ecumenical partners. The LWF Vice-President for Africa, Presiding Bishop Alex G. Malasusa of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, also took part in the ceremony.

In his sermon, Bishop Ulrich emphasized the servant function of the church. “The church is only Church when it is there for others.’ These prophetic words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer had always been an active element in the history of the Churches in Pommern and Mecklenburg—and this is the case also in North Elbian. This remains the responsibility of all of us:  the church in Northern Germany is a church for others. A servant church, a diaconal church,” he emphasized.

Half of the estimated 1,500 people who attended the inauguration followed the ceremony on a large screen outside the nearby Old Town Market Square. At the close of the service, the church invited participants to a public reception, attended by around 1,800 guests.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany was established at Pentecost 2012 following the merger of the former Evangelical Lutheran Church of Mecklenburg, the North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Pomeranian Evangelical Lutheran Church. With more than 2.2 million members, it is the third largest LWF member church in Germany, and covers an area stretching from the borders of Denmark to Poland.

Ulrich is also chairperson of the LWF German National Committee and Presiding Bishop of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany (VELKD).