U.S.-Africa leadership for ecumenical action: Unprecedented opportunities

September 7, 2004

With the U.S. leaders of mainline Presbyterian and Lutheran denominations picked recently as presidents of their respective worldwide Protestant families of churches, the top three ecumenical officials in Geneva—all of them African clergy—will have unprecedented opportunities for communication between the most powerful nation and a continent boasting Christianity’s most dynamic growth.

Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), recently was elected president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, whose general secretary is Setri Nyomi of Ghana.

Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was elected last year as president of the Lutheran World Federation, whose general secretary is Ishmael Noko of Zimbabwe.

Nyomi and Noko both serve their full-time positions in a building in Geneva that also holds offices of the World Council of Churches, which has 342 members in 120 countries.

The new WCC general secretary is Methodist minister Samuel Kobia of Kenya, who succeeded Konrad Raiser of Germany in the post last year. In his educational background, Kobia holds degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.