Condolences on death of Bishop Vinton Anderson
14 July 2014
Letter to the African Methodist Episcopal Church:
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
It is with great sadness that the World Council of Churches learned of the death of Bishop Vinton R. Anderson. I write to express my sincere condolences on his passing. He was surely respected and beloved among you, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, particularly for his leadership in liturgical renewal in the church and strong commitment to ministerial formation. You must know that he was equally respected and cherished for his leadership in the worldwide ecumenical movement. Bishop Anderson served with distinction as the president for the North American region of the World Council of Churches between the Canberra and Harare assemblies. In that capacity, he led the then US Conference of the World Council of Churches. Bishop Anderson had a strong commitment to ecumenical formation for younger generations. Emerging leaders and seminarians in your church still benefit from his wisdom and generosity as every other year AME seminarians and young clergypersons come to the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, Switzerland to study ecumenical history and theology and live in an intentional ecumenical and multicultural community, thanks to the Bishop Vinton R. Anderson Fellowship which he established. This is just one example of how he has served as a mentor for so many in ministry and ecumenism.
Members of this global ecumenical fellowship recently gathered for the meeting of the central committee of the World Council of Churches in the Ecumenical Centre here in Geneva. Bishop Anderson’s name was called several times as persons remembered him with fondness and respect. Please know that Christians worldwide are holding you in prayer for strength, comfort, and peace for today and the days to come.
I extend my sympathy most especially to Mrs Vivienne Anderson and the entire family who mourn, and pray for peace and comfort at this difficult time.
Perhaps Bishop Anderson said it best in My Soul Shouts!, in his reflection entitled, Living Forever, when he concluded, “In the end, it is not what is believable that matters, but what is believed. Our eternality is in our complete surrender to an infinite God who has promised everlasting life in response to our faith, which Jesus has said could be the size of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20).” May we all have such a faith.
Your brothers and sisters in Christ join your church in celebrating the life of Bishop Anderson, keeping his memory and vision before us.
May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
Yours in our Common Lord,
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC general secretary