Following the conclusion of the Thirteenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), which took place in Kraków, Poland from September 13-19, the incoming council elected its seven vice presidents, one for each region.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s Rev. Katherine Gohm was elected vice president for the North America region for the current term, which runs for seven years or until the close of the next LWF Assembly. Gohm, a pastor in the ELCIC’s Eastern Synod, succeeds ELCA Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, who served that role from 2017 to 2023. Prior to that, ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson served as the LWF vice-president for the region.
“I am honoured to have been elected to serve as the vice president of the North America region to represent the LWF, while working with the vice presidents of the other six regions of the LWF,” Rev. Gohm said. “Since becoming involved with the LWF I have been able to hear and see what we can accomplish together as part of a global communion, which seeks to live out reconciliation, peace and justice for the world. That is really exciting and inspiring, and I am very grateful to be a part of it.”
The Thirteenth Assembly of the LWF was Gohm’s second such LWF event, having previously attended in Windhoek, Namibia in 2017. For this assembly, she served on the planning committee, familiarizing herself with the governance and work of the LWF, while helping pull together the assembly theme of One Body, One Spirit, One Voice alongside host church, the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland.
“It was great to see it all come to fruition and to rekindle old connections while making new ones over our shared experiences at Assembly,” she added. “And it was especially great to see so many of us from the ELCIC at this Assembly.” ELCIC members served in a variety of roles at in Kraków, from delegates to advisors, to members of the planning team and worship, to co-opted staff.
Rev. Gohm says a primary focus from her work with the LWF will be bringing the work of the greater church back to the ELCIC, while sharing her current context and dialogue within her new role.
“As the ELCIC, we have our experiences, learnings, and journeys which we bring to the table,” she said. “For example, living out the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as we learn to walk toward healing with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples; what it means to address sexual, gender-based violence and intimate partner violence in our churches and society and – as National Bishop Susan Johnson has done – adding our voice to call for a search of the landfills for missing and murdered Indigenous women, calls for justice for Indigenous children, and Two-Spirit people.”
“We can do more together by witnessing to God’s mercy and love in this world by adding and amplifying our voices, support, and commitment as member churches of the LWF.”
Gohm joins the following vice-presidents: Rev. Dr. Yonas Yigezu Dibisa (Africa), Bishop Chun Wa Chang (Asia), Bishop Dr. Tamás Fabini (Central Eastern Europe), Bishop Kristina Kühnbaum-Schmidt (Central Western Europe), Isabella Reimann Gnas (Latin America and the Caribbean) and Rev. Dr. Arnfríour Guomundsdóttir (Nordic Countries).
Bishop Henrik Stubkjaer, of the Viborg Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, was elected by the council at the Assembly to serve as president of the LWF.