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MEETING OF THE WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES’ OFFICERS
Phanar, 13-16 December 2006
PRESS RELEASE

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The Meeting of the World Council of Churhces’ Officers took place from 13-16 December 2006 at the See of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Phanar, Istanbul, Turkey, under the auspices of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received in audience today, Thursday, 14 December 2006, the new Officers of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches: Revd Dr Walter Altmann (Moderator); Metropolitan Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima (Vice-Moderator); Revd Dr Margaretha Hendriks - Ririmasse (Vice-Moderator) and Revd Dr Samuel Kobia (General Secretary), accompanied by the World Council of Churches’ Staff: Mr Georges Lemopoulos (Deputy General Secretary); Dr William Temu (Associate General Secretary), and Revd Sabine Udodesku (Assistant to the General Secretary).

His All Holiness welcomed very warmly the high level WCC Officers on behalf of the Church of Constantinople and thanked them for choosing the Ecumenical Patriarchate as the place for this meeting. He congratulated wholeheartedly the newly elected officers, entrusted with such an important ecumenical ministry at the WCC General Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil, last February, and wished them a blessed, fruitful and constructive term of service.

Patriarch Bartholomew underlined the fact that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is one of the Founding Member Churches of the WCC and plays  a significant role in the Ecumenical Movement since the beginning of the 20th century. The particular interest and deep commitment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is manifest through its strong presence in the various commissions of the WCC.  Meanwhile, His All Holiness stressed the readiness of the Church of Constantinople to always promote dialogue, not only between the Christian Churches, but also between Christianity and the other monotheistic religions.

The “Green Patriarch”, as he is called, Patriarch Bartholomew, also referred to the ecological initiatives and activities of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to his recent trip to Brazil within the framework of the 6th International Inter-religious Ecological Symposium, which had as its theme the protection of the Amazon river. 

The new moderator of the Central Committee, Revd Dr Walter Altmann, President of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil, responding to the Ecumenical Patriarch, offered the following:
«Your All Holiness,
It is a great pleasure for all of us, Officers and members of the Staff Leadership Group of the WCC to be here, in the apostolic and historical Church of Constantinople, hosted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
It is a great honor to all of us to be received by Your All Holiness today, in a spirit of Christian friendship and love, in a spirit of a genuine commitment to the unity of the church, in a spirit of deep awareness of our common calling within a suffering world….
Indeed, the Church of Constantinople has been a truly “ecumenical” church throughout the history…, the real “ecumenical” character and nature of this Church…, being tangibly manifested in her many historical initiatives.
However, the series of the many “ecumenical” initiatives undertaken by this Church are not limited to promoting dialogue among Christians. Your All Holiness has personally become a leading figure of the contemporary ecumenical movement by continuing the long-standing tradition of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and playing an active role in the fields of; inter-religious dialogue and collaboration, reconciliation among peoples and cultures, and the protection of the natural environment.
For all these we are grateful, as we are grateful for the permanent support of the Church of Constantinople to the WCC. One expression of this care and support is the presence of Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima among us today, as one of us, the Officers, representing the WCC….
We envisage full communion. We engage with passion in the struggle against poverty and injustice. We work for the reconciliation and peace. There are, assuredly, many hindrances and obstacles along the paths of our ecumenical journey. But, as the Apostle Paul says writing to the congregation in Corinth, “we are perplexed, but not driven to despair” (2 Co 4:8)….
Therefore, our prayer is: “God, in your grace, transform our hope. Transform our feeble hopes into that hope which comes from Christ’s resurrection and therefore transforms the whole world. This is the hope that will bring new life into our lives, our churches and the ecumenical movement. Yes, we do hope, “against hope”».

The Officers and the WCC Staff also had the opportunity to visit famous archeological sites of the City and to enjoy the generous hospitality of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

At the Ecumenical Patriarchate/ Phanar, 15 December 2006