World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

You are here: Home / Resources / Documents / WCC general secretary / Messages and letters / Wolfram Kistner

Wolfram Kistner

Condolence letter to the family of Wolfram Kistner, a tireless champion for justice, equality and human dignity for all.

05 December 2006

Geneva, 5 December 2006

Dear Mrs Adelheid Kistner and family,
dear friends, sisters and brothers in South Africa,

During the times of the anti-apartheid struggle, we got to know Wolfram very well as a tireless champion for justice, equality and human dignity for all. He has been one of the clearest voices, articulating biblically and theologically why as Christians we had to support the struggle against apartheid which violated the very values he stood for. Working as director of the Division of Justice and Reconciliation of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) from 1976 to 1988, he became the most prominent Lutheran theologian to condemn and de-legitimise the apartheid regime.

His activities were closely observed and hated by the apartheid state. He was detained in June 1986, imprisoned for a week, and banned for six months. But nothing could break his convictions or silence him. After retiring from the SACC he continued to be involved and saw with great joy the birth of a new South Africa after the fall of the apartheid system.

We were glad to hear that he received one of the highest awards by the government of South Africa, the Order of the Baobab in Silver, in April this year in recognition of "his excellent contribution to the fight for justice, equality and democracy in South Africa."

With great sadness we learned that he fell seriously sick and his health deteriorated very quickly. We now mourn his death with family and friends in South Africa and worldwide. We will remember him for giving his sharp mind and capacity for theological discernment, and all of his wisdom and energy to overcome the destructive and murderous form of racism in South Africa. While being close to the victims, he was an effective advocate in building solidarity abroad.

We trust that he will find his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ saying to him: "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me" (Mt 25:40).

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
WCC general secretary