Geneva, 30 March 2011

Dear Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien,

It is with gladness in my heart that I write to you today to congratulate you on behalf of the World Council of Churches on your appointment as the first leading Bishop of the Church of Norway.

The establishment of this new position, and the strong support for you to take this role, represents an important new phase in the history of the Church of Norway. Your appointment comes at a pivotal time in the Norwegian church history, as the church seeks ways forward in light of numerous challenges. The church is discerning anew its relationship with the state. It is working towards redefining its place and identity in light of the reality of an increasingly multi-religious society. It is continuing to facilitate dialogue around sensitive issues of moral discernment,  you have been leading a significant project for Christian education in the Church of Norway.  

On behalf of the worldwide fellowship of WCC member churches I offer my encouragement and support to your leadership during these challenging times, and know that you see in these dynamics the potential for a transformative gospel witness. 

Significantly this coincides with the 50 years since the first women were ordained in the Church of Norway. These are landmarks in the efforts to define the ministry of women in the Church of Norway.

I know that with your skills in community-building and collaboration, you will have much to offer to the church and society as a whole. I encourage you to also embrace your vocation as an ecumenist, as a vice-president of the LWF. I assure you of the eagerness of the World Council of Churches to work with you in your new role, and look forward to your contributions to the ecumenical movement.

With every good wish for God’s blessings, and with our prayers.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General secretary
World Council of Churches

cc.  Ms Berit Hagen Agøy,  General Secretary, Church of Norway, Council on Ecumenical and International Relations
Rev.  Martin Junge, LWF General Secretary