From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] World Council of Churches to elect new general

Date Fri, 22 Aug 2003 16:54:42 -0500

Note #7894 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

World Council of Churches to elect new general secretary
August 22, 2003

World Council of Churches to elect new general secretary

By Stephen Brown
Ecumenical News International

GENEVA - The main governing body of the World Council of Churches on Tuesday
starts an 8-day meeting in Geneva at which the world's biggest church
grouping is scheduled to elect a new general secretary.

The 158-member central committee, which is the WCC's highest governing body
between assemblies, will hear a report from a search committee, set up a year
ago to find a successor to the Rev. Konrad Raiser who has been general
secretary since 1993 and who will retire at the end of this year.

Officials at WCC headquarters in Geneva, citing the confidential nature of
the selection process, have declined to comment on the names of anyone in the
running for the post.

But according to a report in the latest edition of Nuevo Siglo, a newspaper
published by the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), the central
committee will be presented with the names of the Rev. Trond Bakkevig, a
Norwegian Lutheran, and the Rev. Sam Kobia, a Methodist from Kenya.

Bakkevig, dean of the Vestre Aker church in Oslo, is a former general
secretary of the Church of Norway's council on foreign relations, and is a
member of the WCC central committee.

Kobia has been a staff member at the WCC since 1993 and is currently the
WCC's director and special representative for Africa. He was a former general
secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya.

The election for a new secretary general comes at a crucial time for the WCC
which has faced severe financial pressures in recent years leading in the
past 12 months to a program of downsizing and restructuring.

Next week's meeting of the central committee will discuss detailed plans on
efforts to find a more "flexible and Responsive" structure for the ecumenical
movement that will allow the WCC and other church bodies to work together in
a "common Framework" to reduce duplication of efforts.

The plans follow Raiser's report to last year's meeting in which he called
for a "new ecumenical configuration." Raiser is expected to spell out the
idea in greater detail in his report on Tuesday to this year's meeting.

The WCC's 342 member churches include all mainstream traditions - Protestant,
Anglican and Orthodox - with the exception of the Roman Catholic Church,
which has representatives on some WCC bodies.

As well as what will be Raiser's last report as general secretary to the
central committee, the meeting will also hear a report on Tuesday from the
committee's moderator, Catholicos Aram I of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Other items on the 8-day agenda will include a report on the challenges
raised by new technologies, specifically the issue of genetic engineering,
and how churches relate to people with disabilities.

There will also be discussion on follow-up to a report given last year by a
special commission set up to consider Orthodox Church participation in the
WCC and which made sweeping proposals on worship and decision-making

Editor's note: Presbyterian News Service Coordinator Jerry Van Marter will be
in Geneva as an invited guest of Ecumenical News International to help it
cover the WCC Central Committee meeting.

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