Lutherans pick first woman to lead church

Hannover Bishop Margot Kaessmann became the first woman to lead the Protestant church in Germany on Wednesday, Oct 28th after receiving 132 out of 142 votes from the synod. The 51-year-old succeeds 67 year old Bishop Wolfgang Huber, who is retiring.

“With trust in God’s help I accept the vote,” she said.

Following the vote in Ulm, Kaessmann, who has been at the helm of Germany’s largest regional church for more than 10 years, will lead all of Germany’s 25 million Protestants for the next six years.

Kaessmann has proposed a radical course of reform for the Evangelische Kirche Deutschland (EKD), which suffers from shrinking congregations and revenues. In addition to streamlining the clergy, she plans to increase the church’s profile and improve strained relations with the Catholic Church.

Kaessmann is known as an outspoken, tolerant and humorous leader, having once said: “Crabby Christians are a contradiction in themselves.”

She divorced her husband of 26 years in 2007, a decision that sparked initial reactions varying from “open criticism to the point of malice, contempt and hatred,” as she described it in a memoir published last September.

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