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Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia

WCC general secretary 2004-2009

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, of the Methodist Church in Kenya, was elected general secretary of the World Council of Churches in August 2003, and took up his new post in January 2004. Earlier in 2003, he served as director and special representative for Africa of the WCC.

From 1999 to end-2002, Kobia directed the WCC Cluster on "Issues and Themes", and during 2000, spent a sabbatical year as a fellow at the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life at Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University. From 1993 to 1999, he served as executive director of the WCC's Unit III - Justice, Peace and Creation.

From 1987-1993, Kobia was general secretary of Kenya's National Council of Churches, having previously worked since 1984 as director of church development activities with the NCCK, advising its member churches on the formulation, implementation, management and evaluation of development projects. From 1978 to 1984, Kobia was WCC executive secretary for Urban Rural Mission, and also served as secretary of the WCC Africa Task Force.

Among his many social and political and ecumenical involvements, Kobia in 1992 chaired Kenya's National Election Monitoring Unit, chaired peace talks for Sudan in 1991, helped found the Nairobi Peace Group (1987) and the Fellowship of Councils of Churches in Eastern and Southern Africa (FOCCESA), was vice-moderator of the Commission of the WCC Programme to Combat Racism (1984-91), chaired the Frontier Internship in Mission (FIM) International Coordination Committee (1981-85), and helped reorganize the Zimbabwe Christian Council after independence (1980-81). During a ceremony at the University of Buenos Aires on 15 November 2004 he was given the title of honorary professor of Argentina's oldest university. In recognition of his position within the ecumenical family in Kenya and beyond, Kobia was awarded the country's National Ecumenical Award and appointed chancellor of St. Paul's University, Limuru, Kenya, in 2007.