• About Lutheran World Relief

At Lutheran World Relief, we envision a future where all people, in every corner of the world can live full, dignified lives.

Founded by Lutherans in the United States at the end of World War II, grounded in Lutheran theology and building on decades of experience, Lutheran World Relief tackles global poverty by helping people adapt to the challenges that threaten their livelihoods and well-being.

We work with people based on need, regardless of race, religion or nationality and we do not evangelize.

We provide aid in emergencies and help families restore their lives. We partner with communities to build and grow rural economies. We break the cycle of poverty, so families and communities can thrive.

Our goal is to help people build self‐sufficiency and create new community‐owned approaches to problem‐solving that will last long after our projects end.

Our Mission

Affirming God’s love for all people, we work with Lutherans and partners around the world to end poverty, injustice and human suffering.

Our Vision

A healthy world forever flourishing in dignity and justice.

Our Values

  • Gratitude
  • Calling
  • Accompaniment
  • Stewardship
  • Innovation

We are grounded in profound thankfulness for God’s gracious, self-giving love for all humankind, revealed in the redemptive acts of Jesus Christ. Gratitude marks the way we relate to one another and to all creation. Though our experiences vary, we view community as a gift. We give thanks for our wondrous diversity. We celebrate being alive. We abound with joy, hopefulness, hospitality and deep appreciation for the gift of one another (Psalm 136).

All people are made in the image of God (Imago Dei, Genesis 1:26, James 3:9) and are human beings of dignity and worth. Each life-course is laden with meaning and purpose as we live out our callings. Working together, our common vocation transforms communities even as it recognizes a unique space for inter-Lutheran and ecumenical relations. As we are attentive to the alignment of our individual, interpersonal and common vocations, we will flourish.

God has modeled for us the decisive act of accompaniment in the life of Jesus. By walking along the road and breaking bread with his companions (Luke 24), Jesus met others eye to eye, accessing new horizons for them to construct their future. Similarly, we endeavor to walk and work with partners. As we engage in critical and self-critical reflection and develop cultural competency, we support, encourage and learn together within long-term relationships of trust and reciprocity.

Both our respect and appreciation for each other and the critical and urgent nature of our mission call us to employ the highest standards in our lives and work. We are not owners; rather we strive to be wise trustees: “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it” (Psalm 24:1). Aware of an imbalance and abuse of resources globally, we are compelled toward responsibility, justice and bold investment for the sake of our mission.

As long as our vision remains unachieved, we are restless. We seek relentlessly to learn, adapt, and grow. Our goals are so compelling and human suffering so pervasive that we are unsatisfied with the status quo. With entrepreneurial eyes, we are careful to make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:15-16). With creativity, we build new partnerships that strengthen capacities. With imagination, we embrace leading-edge ideas that enhance the quality of our ministry.

Our Lutheran Identity
We love, because God first loved us.

Lutheran World Relief’s work is a labor of love. We love, because God first loved us. God’s grace calls us and sends us out into the world to help our brothers and sisters living in poverty.

We serve our neighbor with impact and integrity.

We uphold the Fifth and Seventh Commandments by working for resilient communities and just economies.

God works through human institutions.

While other organizations are called to preach the gospel, our call to serve our neighbor is equally important.

All people possess dignity and self-worth.

Lutheran World Relief brings aid and resources to others with the knowledge that every person we work with is holy, created in the image of God to be joyful and flourish. We realize that we need others as much as they need us. We need their experience, their knowledge, and their vision, and so we commit to walking alongside them in times of hardship rather than trying to lead or dominate.

All people have a vocation (calling).

Lutherans believe that God has a calling for every human being that allows us the opportunity to better serve both God and neighbor. It is Lutheran World Relief’s vocation to help people use their calling to the fullest extent.

Our History

In 1945, World War II left an estimated one-fifth of the world’s Lutherans homeless. Here in the United States, Lutheran churches in at least 20 states mobilized to help in Europe through a new agency called Lutheran World Relief.

Photo taken in the 1940's.

Much has changed in nearly 75 years. But in thousands of congregations, in millions of offerings and in uncounted prayers, U.S. Lutherans continue to support Lutheran World Relief’s work.

Lutheran World Relief was there in the late 1940s, when 800,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes by the creation of the state of Israel … in the early 1950s when Hong Kong, Korea and Bangladesh and much of Asia was mired in strife … during the 1970s and ’80s, when civil wars and drought plagued Africa. 

Today, Lutheran World Relief operates in East and West Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, helping some of the world’s poorest communities build the resilience they need to thrive.

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