World Alliance of Reformed Churches News Release 1 February 2007
Reformed family mourns former WARC general secretary Milan Opocensky
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) expressed its ?deep sense of sadness? today in announcing the death of one of its long-time and much loved leaders, Milan Opocensky.
Scholar, ecumenist and social justice advocate, Opocensky who was WARC?s general secretary from 1989 until 2000, died in Prague 31 January after a brief illness. He was 75.
WARC president Clifton Kirkpatrick called Opocensky one of the saints of the ecumenical movement. ?It?s difficult to know where the Alliance and its commitment to economic and ecological justice would be today without Milan?s great legacy.
?He was also a remarkable ecumenist who, though he worked for so many years within the Reformed family, never forgot the call to unity that is at the heart of the gospel. And he worked tirelessly for this goal. He will truly be missed.?
Opocensky?s successor, Setri Nyomi, said, ?Milan will go down in the history of the Alliance as a very committed leader and scholar who placed economic justice squarely on the agenda of WARC member churches.?
?His commitment to the ecumenical movement from his youth as well as his conviction that the church ought to be at the forefront of addressing injustices were some of the gifts he brought into his leadership of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.
?The Reformed family worldwide today offers a prayer of deep thanksgiving for Milan and a prayer of gentle comfort for the Opocensky family,? Nyomi said.
Milan and his wife, Jana, also an ordained pastor, were a formidable team in the ecumenical world and devoted to their three children and their grandchildren, Nyomi said. ?We pray that God will bless the family with many good memories at this difficult time.?
The son of a Protestant pastor Opocensky was born on 5 July 1931 in Hradec Králové, about 100 kilometres from Prague. His mother was the first woman to study Protestant theology in Czechoslovakia.
He was ordained in 1955 in the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren and completed his Th.D. in 1965. In 1973 he became a professor of Social Ethics at the Comenius Faculty of Protestant Theology in Prague.
He was the author of two important books, Christians and Revolution and Widerstand und Revolution and the editor of numerous others.
Opocensky was involved in a variety of ecumenical organizations during his long career, including the World Council of Churches in the 1960s and the World Student Christian Federation where from 1967 to 1973 he served as a staff member and then as general secretary.
At the time of his retirement from WARC he explained how he could be a committed ecumenist and a leader of a world communion: ?For me being Reformed does not mean being less ecumenical,? he said.
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) brings together 75 million Reformed Christians in 214 churches in 107 countries * united in their commitment to making a difference in a troubled world. The WARC general secretary is Rev. Dr. Setri Nyomi of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana. WARC?s secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Contact: John P. Asling Executive Secretary, Communications World Alliance of Reformed Churches 150 Route de Ferney P.O. Box 2100 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland tel. +41.22 791 6243 fax: +41.22 791 6505 web: www.warc.ch
Laurent Schneller Administrative Assistant Communications Office World Alliance of Reformed Churches 150 route de Ferney PO Box 2100 1211 Geneva 2 Switzerland tel. +41 22 791 6139 fax +41 22 791 6505 web www.warc.ch