Canadian ecumenist Ralph C. Young, whose career led him on a pilgrimage from Christian youth work in his native maritime provinces to global ministries of inter-church dialogue and coordination, died in Geneva, Switzerland on 26 November at the age of 100.
Born on 29 April 1915 in Bideford, Prince Edward Island, Young was the child of a Methodist manse. During his childhood, Methodists became part of the United Church of Canada (UCC). Following studies at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Young took up a series of positions in the youth and student streams of the ecumenical movement. After serving of the staffs of the Maritime Religious Education Council and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), he became secretary of the UCC’s Board of Men.
In 1961, Ralph Young was called to service in the World Council of Churches (WCC) as executive secretary of their department of the laity, and as a co-editor of the periodical “Laity” alongside movement giants Madeleine Barot of France and C.I. Itty of India.
As a result of closer ties among churches due to the work of the Second Vatican Council, he pioneered in relations between the WCC and the Roman Catholic Laity Council. In the early 1980s, he worked in the WCC’s commission on inter-church aid, the Africa desk and the Poland programme.
Although officially retired from the WCC in 1980, in 1983 Young was employed as Geneva secretary for the World Methodist Council. He continued in this position until 2001. His funeral took place in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Geneva on 2 December 2015.