As moderator, what do you see as your main role?
Bishop Bedford-Strohm: My role as moderator will be theological and spiritual guidance, relationship-building in a very diverse community, and public theology, that is, being a voice for the churches in the global public. To put it in the words that stood over the assembly: My task is witnessing Christ’s love, which moves us to reconciliation and unity.
How has the World Council of Churches 11th Assembly helped spark your momentum toward the church becoming the light of the world?
Bishop Bedford-Strohm: The WCC has been very close to my heart for a long time. After the WCC 9th Assembly in Porto Alegre 2006 and the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan in 2013, this has been the third WCC assembly in which I have participated. Serving on two important committees and moderating a plenary in Karlsruhe has taken a lot of energy. But I received even more energy from the beautiful and joyful worships and from the inspiring encounters that I have had with participants from all over the world. Experiencing how people with such diverse backgrounds and sometimes heavily differing views can still respect each other—and even love each other mutually as children of God—has given me hope that we can sometimes actually really be the salt of the earth and light of the world.
What can the global fellowship pray for you as you begin this journey as moderator?
Bishop Bedford-Strohm: I am thankful for prayers that I may experience what 1 Timothy 1:7 says: “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love, but of power, and and of prudence.”
What is your vision for amplifying the voice of young people in the ecumenical movement?
Bishop Bedford-Strohm: We need to listen much more to the voice of young people and, above all, increase their participation. In my own work as a bishop in Germany it has been one of my most encouraging experiences how young people have inspired us as a church with new and creative thinking and acting beyond the traditional ways. I wish for more also in the global ecumenical movement!