WCC 11th Assembly elects eight new presidents
At the start of the day’s plenary session in Karlsruhe, WCC moderator Dr Agnes Abuom said, “We will present eight WCC presidents for election. We will also take action on the recommendations of the nominations committee.”
According to the WCC Constitution the role of the WCC presidents is to promote ecumenism and interpret the work of the WCC, especially in their respective regions. The presidents are ex-officio members of WCC central committee.
The presidents are:
From Africa, Rev. Dr Rufus Okikiola Ositelu, of the Church of the Lord (Prayer Fellowship) Worldwide, was chosen as the regional president. Ositelo will be the first WCC president from an African Instituted Church.
Ositelu is the archbishop and metropolitan of the Arch-Province of Nigeria, and the fourth primate of The Church of the Lord (Prayer Fellowship) Worldwide. He served on the WCC central committee between the WCC 8th Assembly in Harare and the WCC 9th Assembly in Porto Alegre.
Rev. Dr Henriette Hutabarat-Lebang, from Gereja Tora, a Reformed church in Indonesia, was elected Asia president. Hutabarat-Lebang is a church leader and ecumenist from Indonesia. She is a current member of the WCC central committee, and has served the ecumenical movement since her involvement in the Youth Working Group of the National Council of Churches in Indonesia beginning in 1976.
Caribbean and Latin America
From the Caribbean and Latin America, Rev. Philip Silvin Wright, Anglican bishop of the Diocese of Belize, was elected as a president.
Ordained a deacon and a priest at the historic Anglican Cathedral Church of St John the Baptist in Belize City, Wright worked primarily in the pastoral ministry in various districts in Belize.
Wright has served on several boards and committees, including the National Commission for Good Governance, the Board of Governors of the University of Belize, the National Committee for Families and Children, and the Community Rehabilitation Department.
For Europe, Rev. Dr Susan Durber of the United Reformed Church (United and Uniting) will serve as president. She is an ordained minister of the United Reformed Church in the UK.
Dr Durber has served local churches as a pastor in the united church. She served as principal of Westminster in Cambridge, part of the Cambridge Theological Federation, and as theological advisor for Christian Aid, an agency of the churches in the UK for international development.
She attended the World Conference on Faith and Order in Santiago da Compostela as a younger theologian and a few years later a consultation for younger theologians in Turku, Finland where she was inducted into the ecumenical movement and mentored by those with much experience.
Rev. Dr Angelique Walker-Smith of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., will serve as president for North America. Walker-Smith is the national senior associate for Pan African and Orthodox Church Engagement at Bread for the World based in Washington D.C.
She has been Ecumenical Representative for National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. and is a current member of the WCC central committee, and is engaged in work of the National Council of Churches in the USA. She is also President of the Historic Black Church Family of Christian Churches Together also made up of many of the USA national churches. She also served as initiator of the Pan African Women of Faith Networks.
The Pacific’s president will be Rev. François Phiaatae, of the Maòhi Protestant Church a Reformed church. Pihaatae is from Maohi Nui (French Polynesia) and is an ordained minister of the Etärëtia Porotetani Mäòhi (Mäòhi Protestant Church).
In addition to his parish responsibilities Pihaatae was called on to take on broader leadership responsibilities when he was elected chairman of a circuit of the church, a position he held for nearly ten years. As chairman he was also an active member of the Church Executive Committee and Synod where he initiated many programs to benefit churches of the region.
Pihaatae gained significant global leadership experience when he served as a member of the WCC Churches Commission for World Mission and Evangelism, 2000-2005.
For the Eastern Orthodox churches, H.E. Metropolitan Dr Vasilios of Constantia - Ammochostos, Church of Cyprus, will serve as president. Metropolitan Vasilios is a native of Ammochostos on the island of Cyprus.
After he finished his basic education, Vasilios joined the brotherhood of the Monastery of the Apostle Barnabas and was tonsured a monk with the name Vasilios. He lived at the monastery until the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
While pursuing his education, Vasilios entered the Holy Orders when ordained a deacon at the Apostle Barnabas Monastery and a priest in Cyprus, raised to the dignity of archimandrite, and then was elected Bishop of Trimithounta by the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus.
H.H. Catholicos Aram I, Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Cilicia, at the Catholicosate in Antelias, will serve as a president for the Oriental Orthodox churches president. He is a former moderator of the WCC central committee.
Aram has played an important role in initiation of Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic and Oriental Orthodox-Lutheran Theological Dialogues. His Holiness has served as a president of the Middle East Council of Churches since November 2007.