A New Global Leader for Evangelicals

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Learn more about the World Evangelical Alliance’s newest Secretary General.

Someone in the line of the Huguenots—the French Protestants who had to flee from persecution in the 16th and 17th centuries—has shown up to remind us what today’s priorities for Christian witness should be.

I refer to Thomas Schirrmacher, who became Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) on March 1. His family lineage dates back to the Huguenots.

Symbolically, Schirrmacher’s inauguration ceremony took place just down the road from Wittenberg, where five centuries ago Martin Luther pried open the controls exerted by the Catholic Church and triggered the Protestant Reformation, from which today’s evangelicals are descendants. Now Schirrmacher, a German like Luther and a theologian, is leading this worldwide community of evangelicals.

Raised in a home of university professors, Thomas grew up meeting Evangelical leaders who visited his home. He went on to study theology and cultural anthropology, accumulating multiple earned Ph.D. degrees and honorary doctorates and publishing prolifically.

Schirrmacher is not just a theologian and author; he is also experienced as a diplomat. He knows politics as well as he knows theology. He has met with many prominent Muslim leaders in the world and has built respectful relationships with the full range of Christian denominations and movements.

I came to appreciate Schirrmacher’s style 16 months ago, when I joined him to spend a day with leaders of Nahdlatul Ulama, an Indonesian-based Islamic movement that seeks to foster respect and understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims. As intense and articulate as he is, his framing of our conversation that day was first built around friendship and understanding. His grasp of cultural differences, …

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