LWF leader receives ‘Der Friedenstein’ prize
General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt highlights urgency of educating young people to be agents of reconciliation
(LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary, Rev. Anne Burghardt has received the 2022 ‘Der Friedenstein’ prize, recalling the urgency of educating young people to be promoters of reconciliation and peace. The LWF leader was presented with the award by the Gotha Cultural Foundation on 5 May in the city where Martin Luther stayed and preached during the Reformation period.
At the awards ceremony in the historic Friedenstein palace, Burghardt spoke of the LWF’s commitment to promoting “human dignity, justice and peace,” alongside its work “to support the churches vibrant witness in the world.” The prize, she said, will be “a significant encouragement to every one of our staff and supporters, professionals and volunteers, to continue contributing to the vital work of peacebuilding, whether within families, churches and communities, or at national and international level.”
In its motivation for the award, the organizing committee described Burghardt as “a proven expert in theology” and a leader who is “committed to ecumenism and international relations.” Receiving the prize on behalf of the global communion of LWF member churches, she highlighted her organization’s response to the conflict in Ukraine, which is being closely coordinated with churches in neighboring countries that are on the frontline of responding to the refugee crisis.
Prize money for Peace Messengers project
The LWF leader also emphasized the need to keep a focus on other conflicts and crises that continue to claim lives and devastate communities far away from the media spotlight. “Wherever the LWF has a presence, we are seeking to advocate and raise the voices of those who are marginalized and suffer most from war and violence, discrimination and displacement,” she said.
Burghardt said she saw the prize an affirmation of the LWF's work. She announced that the prize money will be donated to the LWF’s Peace Messengers project which equips young people to serve as mediators, advocates and positive role models for peacebuilding. The interfaith project provides training and resources, supporting young women and men to become agents of reconciliation within their different cultural contexts.
As a faith-based organization, we understand our mission as a participation in God’s holistic mission, which includes service to others, publicly speaking out for the oppressed and downtrodden, and peaceful resistance to unjust structures that oppress, exclude, and divide people and nations.
“As a faith-based organization,” Burghardt concluded, we understand our mission as participation in God’s holistic mission, which includes "service to others, publicly speaking out for the oppressed and downtrodden, and peaceful resistance to unjust structures that oppress, exclude, and divide people and nations.”
The prize comes as the LWF marks the 75th anniversary of its foundation this year. Previous recipients of the award include Queen Silvia of Sweden, German conductor Kurt Masur and Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng.