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‘We are one church in this global world’

Bishop Dr. Heinrich Bedford-Strohm elected as World Council of Churches moderator

by the World Council of Churches | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The World Council of Churches Central Committee on Thursday elected Bishop Dr. Heinrich Bedford-Strohm of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria as its new moderator.

 The committee, which includes the Rev. Dr. Neal Presa of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), also elected two vice moderators: the Rev. Merlyn Hyde Riley, Jamaica Baptist Union; and H.E. Archbishop  Dr. Vicken Aykazian, Armenian Apostolic Church, Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

The Rev. Merlyn Hyde Riley (Photo by Albin Hillert/WCC)

Riley is acting general secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union and a graduate of the Bossey Ecumenical Institute. Aykazian is known for his ecumenical work for both global and Armenian causes, including the recognition of Armenian genocide, the preservation of Armenian monuments, and statements of solidarity with Armenia and Artsakh.

Bedford-Strohm, as moderator, will serve as the chief governance officer of the WCC and will have primary responsibility for assuring the coherence of the work of the central committee and of the executive committee, and for assuring that the ethos of consensus characterizes all aspects of the governance of WCC.

Bedford-Strohm expressed how honored he is to have been elected to the position. The ecumenical movement is my passion,” he said. It has been my life for a long time.”

He added that the many relationships with people across the world are a big source of joy. That is my personal reason,” he said. But I also have a reason for being happy about this election — the reason that is directed toward the future of the church.”

Archbishop Dr. Vicken Aykazian (Photo by Albin Hillert/WCC)

The church can never be provincial or national, he urged. The church is always universal,” he said. The church can only witness Jesus Christ when we make this visible: that we are one church in this global world.”

Its a world that is struck by many challenges, he said: Where people are suffering, where people cry out for justice, the church must be an agent to give them a voice and to make visible how the church can be the salt of the Earth and the light of the world.”

The moderator has primary responsibility for chairing sessions of the central committee and of the executive committee, sharing this role with the vice-moderators. Together, the moderator, vice moderators, and acting general secretary comprise the leadership of the central committee.

The 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches wrapped up Thursday. It included three delegates from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): the Rev. Dr. Neal Presa, the Rev. Amantha Barbee and Dr. Dianna Wright.

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