From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Kenyan picked to lead WCC

Date Thu, 28 Aug 2003 14:44:11 -0500

Note #7907 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Kenyan picked to lead WCC
August 28, 2003

Kenyan picked to lead WCC

Methodist will be first African to serve as general secretary

Ecumenical News International

GENEVA - The Rev. Sam Kobia, a Methodist from Kenya, was elected general
secretary of the World Council of Churches on Aug. 27.

The WCC central committee chose Kobia to succeed Dr. Konrad Raiser, of the
Evangelical Church in Germany, who has been the council's chief executive for
11 years.

Kobia, the first African ever chosen to lead the WCC, will take office in

The election took place during a closed-door meeting of the central
committee, whose 134 voting members considered two candidates presented by a
search committee: Kobia, and Canon Trond Bakkevig, of the (Lutheran) Church
of Norway. The vote was reportedly 78-52, with four abstentions.

"The WCC is first and foremost a fellowship of churches whose primary purpose
is to call one another to visible unity," Kobia said in his acceptance
speech. "We must work together, and be seen to be working together."

Kobia is now a director and special representative of Africa on the WCC
staff. From 1999 to 2002, he directed WCC programs dealing with theological
and social issues.

The WCC, founded in 1948, and has 341 member churches from virtually all
Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member but is
represented on some WCC bodies.

The previous WCC general secretaries: W.A. Visser't Hooft, of the Netherlands
(1948-1966); Eugene Carson Blake, of the United States (1966-1972); Philip
Potter, of Dominica, West Indies (1972-1984); Emilio Castro, of Uruguay
(1985-1992); and Raiser.

Kobia is the third Methodist to hold the post.

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