World Council of Churches 'On Course' to Select New Head

The World Council of Churches is "on course" to select its next general secretary, according to the search committee's moderator.

Several member churches have already nominated candidates, said Dr. Agnes Abuom in a report earlier this month from the WCC, and more applications are expected to trickle in as the Feb. 28 deadline approaches.

"The net for the search is cast far and wide, inviting all regions, member churches, men and women to apply," said Abuom, a member of the WCC Central Committee.

Only six months remain before a new general secretary will officially be elected at the WCC's Central Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The search committee, formed at the February 2008 Central Committee meeting, has been engaged in the selection process for a new general secretary since the current general secretary, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, announced that he would not seek a second term in office.

Kobia said last February that personal reasons were behind his decision not to seek a second term.

Following Kobia's announcement, the executive committee of the World Council of Churches planned to select an interim general secretary last year during their Sept. 23-26 meeting in Luebeck, Germany, but decided to extend Kobia's term until a new leader takes office.

An invitation to nominate candidates for the position of general secretary was consequently sent to all WCC member churches in December 2008.

Once all applications have been received, the search committee will begin screening them starting in April and narrow down the list of candidates before holding interviews around late June.

The man or woman who is eventually tapped to succeed Kobia will serve as the chief executive officer and a spokesperson for the WCC, which brings together 349 churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, including most of the world's Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches.

Current general secretary Kobia has served in the position since January 2004, four months after his election in August 2003.