In a letter of gratitude, Pillay assured Raiser of the WCC’s prayers for God’s blessings.
“It is a particular pleasure for me to be able to send these greetings as I begin my own service as general secretary of the World Council of Churches,” said Pillay. “We remain deeply indebted to all that you have contributed to the World Council of Churches and the wider ecumenical movement for more than 50 years: as study secretary in the Secretariat for Faith and Order which you joined In 1969 when you were 31; as deputy general secretary to Philip Potter from 1973 to 1983; as professor for systematic and ecumenical theology at the University of the Ruhr in Bochum from 1983 to 1993; and as general secretary of the WCC from 1993 to 2003.”
Pillay also acknowledged Raiser has continued to offer support and encouragement to the WCC, symbolized most recently by Raiser’s presence at the WCC’s 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe last year.
“This year we will be celebrating one of the earliest activities in which you were involved in your time as Faith and Order study secretary, with the 50th anniversary of the Leuenberg Agreement between Lutheran, Reformed, and United churches in Europe and beyond,” added Pillay. “You took part in the final stages of this agreement, which was able to overcome the doctrinal condemnations of the Reformation period and declare ecclesial communion between the participating churches.”
Many still remember the WCC’s 6th Assembly in Vancouver in 1983 planned under Raiser’s leadership as deputy general secretary, added Pillay. “As I embark on my own ministry as general secretary of the World Council of Churches, I am honoured to join you on this ecumenical pilgrimage, to be transformed and renewed,” he said. “I extend again my greetings to you on your 85th birthday, and ask for God’s blessing on you and Elisabeth and your whole family.”