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Tribute to Rev. Dr Kang Won Yong

Condolence message by WCC general secretary Samuel Kobia

18 August 2006

It is with deep sorrow that we received the sad news of the demise of Rev. Dr Kang Won Yong, a pioneer of the ecumenical movement in Korea and a tireless advocate for peace and reconciliation in the Korean peninsula.

Dr Kang, a devout Christian, committed ecumenist and forerunner of the peace movement in Asia for many decades, will always be remembered for his insightful leadership in the church and in society.

His able leadership was evident and manifest in many fields. As Director and President of the Korean Christian Academy, which he founded in 1965, he was instrumental in furthering the ecumenical ethos among generations of young Koreans through his creative and innovative initiatives, charismatic leadership, and genuine concern for promoting ecumenism. As President of the Christian Conference of Asia and throughout two terms (1968-1983) as a member of the Central Committee and of the Executive Committee (1975-1983) of the World Council of Churches, he demonstrated an outstanding degree of ecumenical leadership. His keen interest in ecumenical formation and ecumenical education among lay people in all Asian countries was evident through his initiative and contribution to founding the Association of Christian Institutes and Study Centres in Asia (ACISCA), the ecumenical academy movement in Asia, in the early 1970s.

He was deeply involved in the inter-religious peace movement for several decades, and his commitment and relentless efforts led to the founding of the ‘Korean Peace Forum' to promote inter-Korean dialogue for peace and reconciliation in a divided Korea, while he was President of the Asian Conference on Religion and Peace.

Many in the leadership of the World Council of Churches had the privilege of working closely with Dr Kang throughout the many years of his association and involvement in the global ecumenical movement. We are indebted to him for the numerous contributions he has made over the years and the significant leadership he has demonstrated in the course of his long years of service in building up ecumenism in Korea and in Asia.

We thank God for the life and witness of Rev. Dr Kang Won Yong, and we offer our heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family.

May his soul rest in peace.

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General secretary