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Rev. Dr Lukas Vischer

Tribute by WCC general secretary Samuel Kobia

12 March 2008

"I live, you also will live"
John 14:19

The World Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement have lost an outstanding ecumenist, a man of vision and great passion for the future of life on earth and a church visibly united in faithfulness to Christ's calling.

With great sadness, but also with a deep sense of gratitude for his extraordinary service to the ecumenical movement, we report the death of Prof. Dr Lukas Vischer.

Lukas Vischer joined the staff of the WCC as a young theologian in 1961. Participating in the 1961 New Dehli Assembly of the WCC with staff responsibility for the statement on church unity, and sent as an observer to the Second Vatican Council, he developed a deep understanding for the new dynamics in the ecumenical movement. One fruit of the Second Vatican Council was the Joint Working Group between the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church. He served as its first co-secretary.

Lukas Vischer left a decisive mark on the WCC and the ecumenical movement through the leadership he provided as Faith and Order director from 1966 to 1979. He initiated and shaped various study processes, in particular the study on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry that is widely recognized as a major milestone in the history of the ecumenical movement.

With his immense theological knowledge, sharp mind, great energy and strong will Lukas Vischer continued to contribute to the ecumenical movement in many ways after he left the WCC in 1979. The WCC is especially grateful for his strong commitment to God's suffering creation during the time of the Conciliar Process for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation that followed the 1983 Vancouver Assembly and culminated in a World Convocation in 1990 in Seoul. It was to a large extent thanks to him that the WCC began to work on Climate Change more than fifteen years ago.

During his life, Lukas Vischer built relationships of friendship and trust with many theologians and church leaders around the world. They will mourn with us this loss of a theologian and ecumenist of such a great stature.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Lukas' family, particularly his wife Barbara. We assure them that his memory will be alive in our midst and give thanks to God for Lukas' long life and rich ecumenical ministry.

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
WCC general secretary