LWF Council appoints new directors for Mission and Development and World Service departments

Members of the 2015 Council approve two key positions in the LWF Communion Office. Photo: LWF/Helen Putsman
Members of the 2015 Council approve two key positions in the LWF Communion Office. Photo: LWF/Helen Putsman

Strengthening holistic mission and humanitarian response

GENEVA, 19 June 2015 (LWI) – The Lutheran Federation (LWF) Council has appointed Maria Immonen as the new director of the Department for World Service (DWS) and Rev. Dr Fidon Mwombeki as director of the Department for Mission and Development (DMD).

Immonen, who has been interim World Service director since September 2014, becomes the first woman to head the LWF international arm for humanitarian response and development. The Council appointed her for an initial five-year term at its session on 19 June.

LWF World Service has 5,000 staff working with local and international partners to alleviate suffering, combat injustice and poverty, reaching 2 million people in over 30 countries. 

Immonen is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF), and has a background in development and human rights. Prior to her current position as interim director since September 2014, she had served LWF World Service as global program coordinator since April 2014. From 2003 to 2007, she was the program officer for East Africa, and the focal human rights, gender and peace.

She worked at the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM) as director for Development Cooperation, 2008 - 2014, and as development coordinator, 1999-2003.

Immonen has served as a member of the LWF Council, the World Service Committee, ELCF Council for International Affairs, and on the governing boards of ACT Alliance and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.

She holds a Master degree in English and Development Studies from the University of Helsinki and a degree in leadership and management from Helsinki Business College. She replaces Rev. Eberhard Hitzler, from Germany, who served as World Service director from 2006 until September 2014.

Tanzanian theologian Mwombeki

DMD’s objective of holistic mission includes support to the LWF member churches in proclaiming the gospel, advocating for justice and peace and assisting churches in network and relationship building. The department helps churches in the sharing their resources and skills, provides training and capacity building as well as financial assistance.

Newly appointed DMD director, Mwombeki, currently serves as General Secretary of the United Evangelical Mission: Communion of Churches in Three Continents (UEM) in Wuppertal, Germany. He brings to the LWF expertise from his theological background, broad experience in financial management, and organizational leadership at regional and global levels.

An ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT), Mwombeki joined UEM in 2005 as Executive Secretary for Evangelism, and took up the position of general secretary in 2006. Prior to that, he served as General Secretary of the ELCT North-Western Diocese of Bukoba for four years.

He is a member of the Council of the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD), and has previously served on the boards of the Oikocredit Bank, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Tanzanian coalition on Debt and Development.

He holds a Doctor of Philosophy in biblical studies from Luther Seminary in St Paul, Minnesota, and a master in Business Administration from California Coast University.

Mwombeki will succeed Rev. Dr Carlos Bock, from Brazil, who served as DMD director from September 2013 until January 2015. Brazilian pastor Rev. Dr Silvio Schneider currently heads DMD as interim director.

Council 2015: more information