'Welcoming the Stranger: Refugees at the Core of the Lutheran World Federation'

Ralston Deffenbaugh to present plenary address for Luther College's Liberating Grace conference
International expert on refugee issues and the work of the church to lecture at Luther College's Liberating Grace conference, March 31-April 1.

Ralston Deffenbaugh, assistant general secretary for International Affairs and Human Rights with the Lutheran World Federation based in Geneva, Switzerland, will provide the plenary address for Luther College's Liberating Grace conference. The address, "Welcoming the Stranger: Refugees at the Core of the Lutheran World Federation," will be held at 8:45 a.m. Saturday, April 1, in the Center for Faith and Life Main Hall on the Luther campus.

The conference, held March 31-April 1, is part of the college's yearlong commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Later in the day, Saturday, April 1, Deffenbaugh will also hold the workshop "The Global Challenge of Refugee Protection in an Age of Fear" as part of the conference.

Tickets for the conference are on sale in the Ticket Office, (563) 387-1357 or [email protected], or online at: www.tickets.luther.edu. Conference registration is $55 and includes Deffenbaugh's address, a keynote address by Nadia Bolz-Weber, best-selling author, pastor and former stand-up comic; more intimate seminars with Bolz-Weber and Deffenbaugh; and several workshops on the Reformation and the continuing work of the church. Tickets may also be purchased online for the pre-concert dinner and the Luther College Music Department performance of Bach's B-minor Mass, performed by the college's Nordic Choir and Symphony Orchestra on Saturday evening.

Ralston Deffenbaugh

As assistant general secretary for the Lutheran World Federation, Deffenbaugh coordinates the LWF's international affairs and human rights advocacy and policy development, advises the general secretary and serves as the LWF's main representative to the United Nations offices in Geneva. He is also a dedicated human rights lawyer.

Deffenbaugh's previous experience includes 18 years heading up the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the U.S. Lutheran churches' agency for resettling refugees and working with asylum seekers, unaccompanied refugee children and persons in immigration detention. He also spent six years heading up the Lutheran Office for World Community representing LWF at UN headquarters in New York, and four years at LWF Geneva handling international affairs advocacy.

Since 1981, Deffenbaugh has worked with Lutheran organizations concerned with international affairs as a human rights lawyer. Early in his career, he was heavily involved with the LWF's efforts for Namibia's independence and an end to apartheid in South Africa. During Namibia's transition to independence in 1989-90, Deffenbaugh served as legal adviser for the Namibian Lutheran bishops.

A graduate of the University of Colorado and of the Harvard Law School, Deffenbaugh is licensed to practice law in Colorado. He is married to Miriam Boraas Deffenbaugh; they have two adult children.

'The Reformation of Everything'

The posting of Martin Luther's 95 theses on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany was the beginning of a worldwide movement known as the Protestant Reformation. Luther College is commemorating the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation with a series of events throughout 2017 called "The Reformation of Everything." A full list of events can be found at https://www.luther.edu/reformation-2017/events.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,150, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: http://www.luther.edu.

Ralston Deffenbaugh