World Council of Churches Elects African as Secretary-General

GENEVA, AUG. 29, 2003 ( The World Council of Churches elected Samuel Kobia as its new secretary-general, the first African chosen for the top post.

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Kobia, who will take up the post in January, succeeds Konrad Raiser of the Evangelical Church in Germany.

The World Council of Churches, founded in 1948, is a fellowship of now 341 Christian churches worldwide. The Catholic Church is not a member but works cooperatively with the WCC.

The election took place Thursday during a closed session of the WCC Central Committee, in which the 134 voting members chose between Kobia and Trond Bakkevig of Sweden.

Born in 1947 in Kenya, Kobia is an ordained minister in the Methodist Church in that country. He and his wife Ruth have two daughters and two sons.

Kobia has served as WCC executive secretary for Urban Rural Mission, and as general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya.

He helped reorganize the Zimbabwe Christian Council after independence, chaired peace talks for Sudan in 1991, and in 1992 chaired Kenya’s National Election Monitoring Unit. Kobia returned to Geneva in 1993 to become executive director of the WCC’s Justice, Peace and Creation unit.

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