WCC welcomes appointment of next archbishop of Canterbury

[World Council of Churches] Bishop Justin Welby, current bishop of Durham in the Church of England, has received congratulations and the promise of heartfelt prayers and cooperation from the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) following an announcement on 9 November that Bishop Welby is to become the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is primate of the Church of England, a founding member church of the WCC, and he also plays a leading role in the world-wide Anglican Communion.

Welby will take up these responsibilities following the departure of Archbishop Rowan Williams next month. Williams, a celebrated theologian, has accepted an academic appointment at Cambridge University.

The Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, writing on behalf of the WCC and its member churches, noted that he has “come to realize the unique role that the Anglican tradition and Communion play in the ecumenical movement, and I look forward to working with you to build on and strengthen our relationships.”

Tveit, who was the co-leader of an interfaith solidarity visit to strife-torn Nigeria earlier this year, told Welby, “I particularly appreciate your engaged commitment with the people of Nigeria, and your deep desire to help to improve the lives of all people in that country, seeking ways to help them move beyond conflict, especially of an inter-religious nature.

Over the last few months the WCC has intensified its own commitment to peace-building between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, and we look forward to continuing this work with you”.

Tveit described his impression of Bishop Welby as “someone profoundly committed to being a leader of the church for both the present and the future.”

He also paid tribute to Archbishop Williams, writing, “My own ministry has been greatly enriched by the personal relationship that has developed between us, and I am grateful for his continuing friendship.”

Full text of the WCC general secretary’s letter

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.

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