World Council of Churches

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

In Memoriam

22 February 2005

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, (André Borisovich Bloom) , head of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchal Church in Great Britain and Ireland, priest and doctor, died on 4 August 2003 aged 89. Widely regarded as the best-known Orthodox leader in Western Europe, Metropolitan Anthony came to England in 1949. The heart of his life's work was building up the Russian Orthodox diocese in Britain. Wishing to support the beleaguered clergy in the Soviet Union, he chose the controversial path of loyalty to the just re-establishedMoscow patriarchate, while being personally deeply critical of communism. Metropolitan Anthony was a member of the WCC central committee from 1968 to 1975.

Rev. Canon Dr John Aves, honorary canon of Norwich cathedral, UK, died on 25 January 2004, of a heart attack in Bethlehem where he was serving as a WCC ecumenical accompanier. Aves was 52. His work with Israeli peace groups and in the Deheisha refugee camp signalled his commitment to non-violent action, while the stories he wrote as an EA showed his compassion, comprehension and deep understanding of each person he met. Alison Elliot, WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) member from Scotland, represented the Council at the 6 February funeral in Norwich.

Dr Inga-Brita Castrén, the former general secretary of the Finnish ecumenical council, died on 31 December 2003 at the age of 84. Castrén worked with the WSCF and the YWCA in the 1960s, and joined the WCC in 1969 as executive secretary for mission education, returning to Finland in 1973.

Dean Olle Engström, Swedish church leader and ecumenist died on 26 December 2003 at the age of 83. A member of both the central and executive committees of the WCC, Engström contributed to the creation of Sweden's national Christian council and from 1962 to 1985 was the principal of the Mission Covenant Church's theological seminary.

Rev. Jan Milic Lochman, a minister of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren and distinguished professor of religion and systematic theology in Prague, New York and Basel, died on 21 January 2004 at the age of 81. From 1968 to 1975, Lochman was a member of the WCC central and executive committees, and served on its Faith and Order Commission from 1975 to 1991; from 1970 to 1982, he chaired the World Alliance of Reformed Churches' theology department.

Dr Theo Tschuy, a Methodist pastor from Zürich, died on 8 December 2003 at the age of 78. After serving from 1961 to 1971 as Latin America secretary of the WCC, he worked as associate general secretary of SODEPAX, the joint committee for society, development and peace of both the WCC and the Roman Catholic Church. From its termination in 1980 until his retirement, he was responsible for the Churches' Human Rights Programme for the Implementation of the Helsinki Final Act.

Archbishop Edward "Ted" Scott, retired 10th primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, died on 21 June 2004 in a car accident near Toronto. Called the "red primate" by his critics, Scott was well known for his stand on social justice issues. In 1975 at Nairobi, the "people's archbishop" assumed the tasks of moderator of the WCC Central Committee between its fifth and sixth assemblies, 1975-1983.

Christian Frederick Beyers Naudé, former moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church of Transvaal, general secretary of the South African Council of Churches in the mid-1980s and staunch campaigner for justice in South Africa, passed away on 7 September 2004 at age 89. Paying tribute to the man who played a key role in the ecumenical movement's struggle against apartheid, WCC general secretary Samuel Kobia characterized Naudé as "one of the true Christian prophets of our time".

H.B. Pope Petros VII, Greek Orthodox patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, was killed on 11 September 2004 in a helicopter crash over the Aegean Sea; 17 other members of the Patriarchate perished with him in the accident. WCC acting general secretary Georges Lemopoulos lamented the loss of "a tireless witness of the gospel…and a builder of the ecumenical movement in the Middle East, in Africa and in the world".

Mrs Rosebelle Thu Lay Paw, of the Myanmar Baptist Convention and a member of the WCC Central Committee since the WCC Assembly in Harare in 1998, died in March 2004. As the director of the women's department of the Myanmar Baptist Convention she was an active participant in the ecumenical movement in Myanmar through the Myanmar Council of Churches. Rosebelle provided outstanding contributions to develop the leadership of women in the church and in the ecumenical movement in her country.

Dr Wolfgang Ullmann, of the Evangelical Church in Germany and a member of the F&O commission from 1983 to 1991, died on 30 July at the age of 74.

He taught church and legal history at the Protestant seminary in East Berlin during the time of the Cold War. In the mid-1980s he became active in opposition groups in East Germany and was active in the European Ecumenical Assembly of 1989 that drew up unprecedented demands for political change in the GDR. After the peaceful revolution in 1989 he was one of the co-founders of the Demokratie Jetzt (Democracy Now) political group, serving as a government minister in the transitional government.

Mrs. Ruby Gayle, a former secretary of the Jamaica Council of Churches, passed away after a short illness in October 2004. She is best known for her service to the committees of the WCC and the World Day of Prayer sponsored by Church Women United, as well as for her dedication to the vision of unity for the churches in the Caribbean region.

Mr Chirapurath I. Itty, a member of the Orthodox Church in India, passed away on 17 January 2004 at the age of 78.  He was one of the outstanding leaders from Asia in the ecumenical movement. In 1950 he joined the Student Christian Movement of India as a regional secretary, and in 1959 he joined the youth department of the World Council of Churches. Among his important contributions to the ecumenical movement then was the organization of the Pan African Youth Assembly. Having come through the Student Christian Movement background, he was committed to the ecumenical movement's agenda for social justice and change.  As a result, he soon rose to become the director of the newly formed Commission on the Churches' Participation in Development (CCPD).  After the fourth assembly of the World Council of Churches emphasized the role of development in the lives of the people recently freed from the yoke of colonialism, it was left to the able leadership of Itty to give shape to the WCC's approach to development.  It was he who first pioneered the concept of development for people and people's participation in decision making. In 1979, C.I. Itty left the WCC to join UN-ESCAP (Economic & Social Commission for Asia and Pacific).  His task was to organize training programmes for youth on development.

Rev. Dr. J Robert Nelson a Methodist theologian, died on 6 July 2004 at the age of 84. He went to the Evanston assembly in 1954 as secretary of the Faith and Order Commission, and worked in Geneva until 1959. After returning to the USA he became a professor at the Boston University School of Theology from 1965 to 1985 and served as dean from 1972 to 1974. In the 1970s, Nelson became involved in the new field of bioethics, relating theological understanding to the science of genetics and medical technology. He also administered the World Council of Churches conference on "Faith, Science and the Future" at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1979.


Rev Dr Canaan Sodino Banana, a Methodist minister and first president of Zimbabwe, died on 10 November 2003 at the age of 67. Dr Banana was an early proponent of political ministry, challenging the mainstream churches to take a stance against the unjust colonial misrule in Rhodesia. He was one of the most vocal people against the South African apartheid system and a strong supporter of the WCC's Program to Combat Racism. He retired from government in 1987 and became a teacher at the United Theological College in Harare and at the University of Zimbabwe where he was professor of religious studies and philosophy.

Rev Vavae Toma, Congregational Church of Samoa, died in May 2004. As the first general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches he has contributed to the growth of the ecumenical movement in the region. He was able to bring people of different cultures to build the community of faith in the Pacific. His contributions are evident in the formation of the National Council of Churches and other local ecumenical initiatives.

Rev Rein Jan van der Veen, Uniting Protestant Church in the Netherlands, a former member of the Programme to Combat Racism commission died in May 2004, at the age of 83. In 1969 he became general secretary of the Dutch Missionary Council and played an important role in making PCR known and understood in the Dutch churches. He created the Dutch support group for the PCR (Betaald Antwoord), which collected considerable sums of money for the WCC's Special Fund.

Mrs Frances Maeda died on 26 July 2004, aged 91. For 30 years (1947- 1977) she worked for the WCC at its New York office in a variety of positions, including 20 years as secretary for programmes.

Rev Dr Hans-Otto Hahn, a minister in the Evangelical Church of Hessen and Nassau and former director of bread for the world, died on 3 November 2003 at the age of 67. During his time as vice-president of the Diakonische Werk he was also responsible for the programme "churches helping churches", the scholarship programme "hope for Eastern Europe" and the emergency help. Hahn has been one of the founding members of the worldwide ecumenical network Action by Churches Together.

Rev Charles W. Arbuthnot, a Presbyterian minister, died on 8 August 2004 at the age of 90. In 1948, in addition to his work coordinating the Presbyterian Fraternal Workers in Europe, he was named to represent the Presbyterian Church USA at the newly founded World Council of Churches. Through his WCC connection, he played an important role in the forming of the 1949 Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war and became an active advocate for ecumenical causes.

Rev Francis House, a priest in the Church of England, died on 1 September 2004, aged 96. After the Second World War and relief work in Greece, he became the first secretary of the WCC youth department , and then director of religious broadcasting of the BBC from 1947-1955. He returned the same year to Geneva as the WCC's associate general secretary for ecumenical action. He  was a strong and faithful supporter of the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey.

Mrs Tomoko Faerber-Evdokimov  died on 21 January 2005 in Geneva at the age of 75. She was a member of the Orthodox Church (Ecumenical Patriarchate). From 1972     to 1980 she was head of the WCC language service, and was actively involved in the life of the ecumenical movement through her service in the CIMADE refugee work in Paris, her involvement in the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, and her contribution to many events of CEC, the YWCA and other ecumenical bodies.

Ms Catherine Alt, a member of the WCC staff working in the area of visual arts, died on 2 January 2005 at the age of 47. She had served on the Council's communication team since June 1986, with particular responsibility for photo archives and providing graphic resources by such means as PhotoOikoumene. During 2002, Catherine Alt was instrumental in  the process of consultation and creative artistry resulting in the redesign of the WCC logo.