The head of the largest ecumenical body in the world sent condolences this week after receiving news that Egypt’s top Sunni Islam cleric had died after suffering a heart attack.
“It is with great sadness that we received the news of the passing away of Sheikh Mohammed Sayyid Tantawi, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar mosque and head of the al-Azhar University,” wrote the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, in a letter Thursday.
Tveit, on behalf of WCC members, expressed the “most sincere condolences” to the al-Azhar mosque and university and to the Arab and Muslim world. He said Sheikh Tantawi will be remembered with “great respect and appreciation” for his Islamic scholarship and for his “prominent role and genuine commitment” to intercultural and interfaith dialogue. more >>
A Norwegian theologian was formally installed on Tuesday as the new head of the World Council of Churches.
During his installation service, the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit pronounced "Nothing except Jesus Christ, and him crucified" as his first unity call to the worldwide ecumenical fellowship.
"The cross is and will forever be the sign of the church," the new general secretary said. "This is the symbol that we have together, the symbol of what we have together, the symbol of what the churches have to give to the world. From the beginning to the end." more >>
Several church bodies are tying a worldwide campaign for safe water to this year’s Lenten season.
The National Council of Churches, with partners Church World Service and Lifewater International, has created a website dedicated to encouraging Christians to remember the millions around the world who do not have access to clean water.
The organizations are reminding Christians that some women in Africa and Asia walk 3.7 miles a day to obtain water, and unclean water is the root cause of around 80 percent of the sicknesses in developing countries. Moreover, unclean water is behind the deaths of 5,000 children each day. more >>
The head of a global ecumenical body praised a G7 decision to cancel Haiti’s debt, and urged other financial institutions to do the same.
In a letter Monday to the finance minister of Canada, the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, said he shared the same deep concern for the people affected by the devastating quake in Haiti and thus welcomes G7’s decision.
But he hopes that the debt cancellation does not stop with G7 nations, and that other countries and lending institutions will also be encouraged to forgive Haiti’s debt. more >>
The head of an organization that supports persecuted Christians blasted the World Council of Churches for claiming that the Church in North Korea has freedom.
Calling the WCC's comments “unbelievable,” Glenn Penner, chief executive officer at The Voice of the Martyrs Canada, wrote on VOM’s persecuted church weblog: “Freedom? Some limitations? Challenge to do mission in a different societal system? Where do I begin to pick apart such a singularly silly statement?”
Penner’s stinging words were in response to comments made by Prawate Khid-arn, a leading WCC representative and general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia, after his first visit to North Korea. more >>
The head of the World Council of Churches preached to a North Korean congregation Sunday, emphasizing the importance of cooperation and unity in a country known for its reclusiveness and for having the most heavily militarized border in the world.
By invitation of the Korean Christian Federation of North Korea, WCC General Secretary Dr. Samuel Kobia shared with the nearly 200 members of Bong Soon Church in Pyongyang the letter that the Apostle Paul had written to members of the new church in Corinth at a time when problems of divisions had emerged.
“There are two main learnings I want us to reflect on this morning,” said Kobia on the first day of a four-day visit. “The first is that we are called to take care of each other. The second is to recognize the need for nurturing the unity which is given to us by Jesus Christ.” more >>