From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] World Council of Churches to elect new general

From "Mika Larson" <>
Date Mon, 25 Aug 2003 17:39:32 -0400


World Council of Churches to elect new general 

by Stephen Brown
Ecumenical News International 

[ENS] Geneva, 22 August (ENI)--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

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

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 programme 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

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

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 procedures. [504 words]

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