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Rev. Michael J. Davies

Rev. Michael J. Davies in Cambridge, 2019. Photo: Stephen Brown

Rev. Michael J. Davies, who served the World Council of Churches (WCC) as its assistant general secretary for finance and administration from 1990 to 1997, has died at the age of 87.

“Michael Davies brought his gifts as a pastor and as an accountant to the World Council of Churches at a time when the WCC was undergoing major changes at the beginning of the 1990s, and we remember with gratitude his keen sense of stewardship for the council’s resources,” said WCC interim general secretary

Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, following the news of Davies’ death on 5 October.

“We are also grateful for the way in which, upon his return to Britain, he continued to be a faithful supporter of the WCC Ecumenical Institute at Bossey.”

Sauca added that Davies was a great colleague who loved the WCC with all his heart. “His commitment to Bossey was great,” said Sauca. “Together with his wife they kept in touch with us over the years and got involved in fundraising for Bossey. May God welcome him home.”

Davies was born in Britain in 1933 and initially trained as an accountant but felt the call to the ministry in the Presbyterian Church of England.

After studies at Westminster College, Cambridge, and pastoral charge in England, Davies became the first youth secretary of the United Reformed Church when it was formed in 1972 from the union of the Presbyterian Church of England and the Congregational Church in England and Wales.

During this time, he was chair of British Council of Churches Youth Unit and a member of the executive committee of the Ecumenical Youth Council in Europe, which brought together church youth movements and organizations from throughout Europe, East and West, across the Cold War divide.

Following service as the moderator of the United Reformed Church’s Thames North Province from 1978 to 1990, Davies became the WCC’s assistant general secretary for finance and administration, at a time when the WCC was facing significant financial challenges.

Davies returned to Britain in 1997, where he served for a while as a WCC consultant until 1999. After his retirement he continued his association with the WCC as treasurer of the UK Bossey Network, which gathered supporters of the WCC’s Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, Switzerland.

“Bossey is an incredible meeting place for Christians of every sort from every country,” Davies wrote after attending Bossey’s 70th anniversary celebrations in 2016. “Thousands have passed through and many Christians, ordained and lay, have experienced a great spiritual awaking and deepening there enriching their and their church’s faith.”

Dr Stephen Brown, editor of the WCC’s quarterly journal, The Ecumenical Review, recalled how he had known Davies as minister of his local church in England, as URC youth secretary, and as assistant general secretary at the WCC. He last saw Davies in Cambridge in 2019.

“I have very affectionate memories of Michael, who with his wife, Rosemary, I have known for most of my life,” said Brown. “It was thanks to his enthusiasm and support when he was URC youth secretary that I became involved in the ecumenical movement.”