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Archbishop Desmond Tutu

06 October 2006

Geneva, 6 October 2006 

Your Grace, dear Archbishop Desmond, 

Delegates to the 9th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in February this year in Porto Alegre will not believe that you are celebrating your 75th birthday. They saw and heard the inspiring witness of a powerful preacher, the vibrant and exciting testimony of someone who continues to grow with the challenges he confronts, a man with a great heart, ice breaking humour and a liberating message: an obedient disciple of Christ. No sign of fatigue, but the wisdom that reflects your participation in the suffering and struggles, the joy and blessings of your people. They express their love and respect for you and all you have done for them when they call you, tenderly, 'The Arch'. 

The World Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement as a whole are deeply indebted to you. From the days in the early seventies when you served as a staff member of the WCC until today, you have challenged and pushed us never to adjust to the powers that are, but always to discern the signs of God's coming kingdom and to act accordingly. 

In Porto Alegre you reminded us that "a united church is no optional extra". Rather, you said, it is "indispensable for the salvation of God's world." You paid tribute to the support given by the WCC to the anti apartheid struggle, particularly through the Programme to Combat Racism, and you encouraged us in saying: "You demonstrated God's concern for unity, for harmony, for togetherness, for friendship, for peace, and you must celebrate that, you must celebrate the success notched up in defeating apartheid." 

You greatly helped the WCC to play a decisive role in the struggle against apartheid. Through your work with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, you gave this fractured and broken world a model for overcoming the wounds of past evils and for creating space for healing and reconciliation. 

Dear brother Desmond, let me express our deep gratitude to God who entrusted you with incredible faith and hope, humour and vitality. We ask God to continue His rich blessings toward you, your wife Leah and your whole family, and toward all who sustained you and helped you. 

With warmest birthday wishes,

Your brother, 

Samuel Kobia
General Secretary