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Mathai Zachariah

Condolence message on the passing away of Dr Mathai Zachariah

18 December 2012

It is with great sadness that we have received the news this morning of the passing away of Dr Mathai Zachariah, a great ecumenical visionary and former general secretary of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI).

Having started his ecumenical journey through the Student Christian Movement of India (SCMI), he became a full-time regional secretary of the SCMI and subsequently served the NCCI as its Youth Secretary, Study Secretary and later as the General Secretary. Dr Zachariah was instrumental in moulding the Christian faith and ecumenical vision of many young people over the decades with his deep involvement in the ecumenical movement in India and Asia. He provided leadership in various committees of the Christian Conference of Asia and the World Council of Churches. He participated at the WCC Assemblies in Uppsala, Nairobi and Vancouver.

Dr Mathai Zachariah, devoted his entire life to building up the Indian and Asian ecumenical movement, envisioning a wider ecumenism based on his deep Christ-centredness. His vision and passion for a broader mission of the Church of Christ was rooted in deep spirituality nurtured by social and ethical values, which influenced many young people in India.

He emphasized the need for affirming the values of the profound cultural and spiritual heritages of Asian religions, which he said do not see a dichotomy between humanity and nature. Mathai Zacharia’s strong convictions for better inter-religious relations societies and the role of religion in building peace and harmony led him to initiate and found the India Peace Centre in Nagapur in the 1980s.

As we mourn his passing away, the WCC recognizes his invaluable contributions to the ecumenical movement. We thank God for Mathai Zacharia’s life and witness.

I request you to convey our heartfelt condolences to all members of the NCC India and also to the bereaved members of Dr Zachariah’s family.

May the memory of his ministry and life remain eternal!

Yours sincerely,

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General secretary