Lutheran World Relief

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Lutheran World Relief
LWR-logo+tag RGB 72dpi.gif
Founded 1945
Type Humanitarian aid
Area served
Key people
Daniel V. Speckhard, President and C.E.O.
Gloria Edwards, Chair of the Board
US$ 37.5 million (2013) [1]
71 (U.S.)
Slogan Sustainable Development. Lasting Promise.
Mission Affirming God’s love for all people, we work with Lutherans and partners around the world to end poverty, injustice and human suffering.

Lutheran World Relief (LWR) is an international nonprofit organization specializing in International Development and Disaster Relief. It was headquartered in New York, but has been based in Baltimore, Maryland since 1995.[2] According to its website, LWR promotes sustainable development by helping communities increase the quality of life, engage in Fair Trade, and be better equipped to handle emergencies. This expanded mission originated from its beginnings as a non-governmental organization founded in 1945 for helping many European Lutherans who suffered devastation during World War II.[3]

Lutheran World Relief was awarded the Presidential End Hunger Award by President Reagan in 1986 for providing humanitarian relief to starving people on both sides of Ethiopia's Civil War.[4]

Part of LWR's work includes responding to disasters. In the wake of the 2004 Southeast Asia Tsunami, Newsweek ranked LWR as one of the best international relief agencies, giving the Lutheran group an "A+" rating.[5] LWR continues to receive high rankings from organizations such as the Charity Watch, who gave LWR an A rating in 2007 through 2015,[6] and Charity Navigator, who rated LWR the maximum four stars.[7]

LWR is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global alliance of churches and related agencies working on development that are committed to working together.


In the aftermath of World War II, Lutherans around the United States realized that many of their relatives in Europe needed help rebuilding their lives. In 1945, "Lutheran churches from at least 20 states mobilized to help in Europe" and formed Lutheran World Relief. Soon after, the work of LWR expanded to Palestine, then to Hong Kong, Korea and Bangladesh in the 1950s. In the 1970s and 1980s, LWR's expanded its work into Africa, as civil wars and droughts hit countries there.[8]

In 2011, LWR's work includes International Development in 18 countries and provides emergency relief to numerous other countries as disasters occur.[9]


LWR is a capacity building organization who works with local partner organizations that are "made up of or involve local community members."[10] LWR's philosophy is that these partner organizations have the specific knowledge of their context that is needed to pull individuals and communities out of long-term poverty. LWR then provides technical expertise, financing and training to improve the work of the partner organizations.


Lutheran World Relief identifies six sectors of their development work: Water, Emergency Response, Agriculture, Climate, Health & Livelihoods, and Civic Participation

Emergency Response[edit]

LWR's work in emergencies includes both responding to sudden natural disasters with cash, staff and material resources (such as quilts or personal care kits), as well as disaster risk reduction.

Lutheran World Relief has recently contributed to emergency relief efforts in:


LWR's work in agriculture focuses on food security, specifically working with small-holder farmers to "help them access credit, learn about improved agricultural inputs and techniques, increase their yields, access markets and, ultimately, improve their incomes."[15]


LWR works with local communities to combat the effects of climate-related disasters through Disaster Risk Reduction, and climate mitigation techniques like reforestation.[16]

Where LWR Works[edit]

Latin America[edit]


Asia and the Middle East[edit]


LWR centers all of its work in a philosophy & framework called “accompaniment.” Rooted in the Lutheran tradition that believes empowerment and justice happen only by ‘standing with’, rather than ‘doing for’ others in need, accompaniment is a dynamic relationship between diverse partners with complementary resources and skills working together to empower poor communities to improve their lives. It recognizes that all poor communities already have resources and assets that can be harnessed to improve their own wellbeing. Building on these pre-existing assets, accompaniment is based on shared values and objectives, and uses jointly developed strategies with flexibility and openness to achieve sustainable results. Characterized by mutual trust, respect, accountability, and transparency, the relationship contributes to each partner’s growth and learning while carrying out its primary goal of improving the well being of the poor.

In its emergency and development work, LWR uses accompaniment to work through existing structures and organizations (“partners”) where and whenever possible to foster community empowerment and to ensure resources are used to maximum effect. LWR seeks to be a catalyst for, and facilitator of, development and social change led by local organizations and impoverished people. Accompaniment is not only a relationship between LWR and its partners, but a process of working together. It uses a rights-based approach that relies on participatory and appreciative methods, leading-edge development techniques, effective program management, and organizational capacity building.[17]


  1. ^ LWR's 2013 Annual Report ([1])
  2. ^ "People," The Christian Century Sep 5, 2006
  3. ^ Lutheran World Relief Websites: Overview [2] and History [3], both retrieved November 30, 2008
  4. ^ Relief Worker Recounts Efforts to Help in Africa, Philadelphia Media Network, March 27, 1988 [4]
  5. ^ Eve Conant, "Rating Tsunami Relief", Newsweek, January 17, 2005 (online edition retrieved November 14, 2007)
  6. ^ American Institute of Philanthropy website, "Top Rated Charities", retrieved November 14, 2007 and May 5, 2015)
  7. ^ Lutheran World Relief on Charity Navigator ([5]), accessed September 27, 2011
  8. ^ Lutheran World Relief Website, retrieved August 4, 2011: History
  9. ^ Lutheran World Relief Website, retrieved August 4, 2011: Our Work
  10. ^ Lutheran World Relief website, accessed August 5, 2011 ([6] Partnership)
  11. ^ Haiti, on the Lutheran World Relief Website, last accessed Aug. 4, 2011. [7]
  12. ^ East Africa, on the Lutheran World Relief Website, last accessed Aug. 4, 2011 [8]
  13. ^ South Sudan, on the Lutheran World Relief Website, last accessed Aug. 4, 2011 [9]
  14. ^ Nepal Earthquake, on the Lutheran World Relief website, last accessed April 28, 2015 [10]
  15. ^ Agriculture, on the Lutheran World Relief Website, last accessed Aug. 5, 2011 [11]
  16. ^ Climate, on the Lutheran World Relief website, last accessed Aug. 5, 2011 [12]
  17. ^ Lutheran World Relief website, accessed July 14, 2010 ([13] Accompaniment)

External links[edit]

Grams, Grant: “T.O.F. Herzer and his work with German-speaking immigration to Canada”, in Richard Virr (ed.), Journal of the Canadian Church Historical Society, 2007.