A personal note from Karin Achtelstetter


Rev. Dr Karin Achtelstetter was WACC General Secretary from 2010 to 2018. She has left to become Executive Director of Canadian Lutheran World Relief.


The final day: I am looking at the piled up boxes in my office: papers, documents, letters, pictures, some personal items. Can they capture the time that has passed? Is this what I am leaving behind? What were my aspirations when I started? What has become of them?

I read through some memos; – oh, yes, this is something we worked on. It seems like yesterday.

Every little item carries a memory of colleagues, directors, members, partners – of friends. I look at some photos of projects that changed peoples’ lives. I think of the frustration when a project that we believed in didn’t get funding. This is not just a matter of administration; these are true life stories. I think of difficult discussions and tedious processes; and of moments of pride, for example when WACC became the general secretariat of GAMAG (Global Alliance on Media and Gender); when more countries than ever before participated in GMMP in 2015 and when we had a simultaneous launch of the GMMP results in London and New York.

I am happy that our office became a small “ecumenical” hub for other organizations such as the ACT Alliance and the Parliament of the World’s Religions. I am proud and encouraged by the extraordinary regional projects, which were successfully completed, such as the Media Monitoring on Refugee Reporting, which encouraged so many other regions to follow the same path. It has always been my hope that regions would inspire each other.

What stays with me are people – are you. Whether you challenged me or unequivocally supported me, you all contributed to the making of a general secretary. I will miss the meetings with colleagues, the discussions, the brainstorming.

I am leaving with “eine Traene im Knopfloch” – as we say in German – “a tear in the buttonhole”. But general secretaries have an expiry date – we are only appointed to serve for a number of years; our task is to set new impulses: and to give whatever we can to the organization.

I am leaving at a time, when it is a “great time to be part of WACC!” – WACC is turning 50 this year. There are many, many reasons to celebrate and to look into the future; and I am looking forward to celebrating with you, as a faithful member and supporter of WACC.

I am leaving with an immense sense of gratitude that I was allowed to serve this great and diverse organization with its multifaceted networks.

A friend reminded me of Hermann Hesse’s reassurance: “a magic dwells in each beginning protecting us, telling us how to live.”

With warmest regards to you all.

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