WCC Central Committee elects first woman and African as moderator

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Dr. Agnes Abuom, from the Anglican Church of Kenya, was unanimously elected to the highest governing body of the World Council of Churches. Photo: WCC
Dr. Agnes Abuom, from the Anglican Church of Kenya, was unanimously elected to the highest governing body of the World Council of Churches. Photo: WCC

Dr. Agnes Abuom, from the Anglican Church of Kenya, made history by being elected the first woman and first African moderator of the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Central Committee.

Abuom, who hails from Nairobi, was unanimously elected to the highest WCC governing body by the newly installed 150-member committee, during its meeting Nov. 8 in Busan, Republic of Korea. She succeeds the Rev. Dr. Walter Altmann, president of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil.

“My [hope and] prayer is that we shall move forward together, in the next years, despite our diversities that have the potential to divide us,” said Abuom shortly after her election. “…And that the WCC will continue to remain an instrument for providing a safe space for all who can come and share their hopes, aspirations and visions, and prophetic voice.”

Founded in 1948, the WCC is an ecumenical fellowship of 349 member churches and denominations, representing over 560 million Christians in over 110 countries.

Abuom is widely known in WCC circles-she has served on its executive committee, representing the Anglican Church of Kenya, a province of the Anglican Communion with 31 dioceses and a membership of 4.5 million Anglicans. She was the Africa president for the WCC from 1999 to 2006 and has been associated with the All African Conference of Churches and WCC member churches in Africa. She is also co-president of Religions for Peace and the National Council of Churches of Kenya.

She also works as a development consultant for religious and secular Kenyan and international groups, co-ordinating social action programs across Kenya. Her areas of expertise include economic justice, peace and reconciliation.

Abuom was quoted by a WCC press release as saying that the model of “consensus discernment” that the WCC adopts at its meetings “resonates very well with the feminine decision-making processes.”

Also elected during the meeting were two vice-moderators: United Methodist Church Bishop Mary Ann Swenson from the United States and Prof. Dr. Gennadios of Sassima, from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

 

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