World Council of Churches elects first woman and African moderator of Central Committee

Dr Agnes Abuom

Dr Agnes Abuom has become the first woman and African to be appointed moderator of the World Council of Churches' Central Committee.

Dr Abuom, of the Anglican Church of Kenya, was installed as moderator of the 150-member committee on Friday, during the WCC's 10th Assembly taking place in Busan, South Korea.

She was elected unanimously and is the first woman and African to hold the position in the 65-year history of the WCC.

Abuom has served on the WCC Executive Committee, representing the Anglican Church of Kenya. She is also a development consultant serving both Kenyan and international organisations, coordinating social action programmes for religious and civil society across Africa.

Abuom was the Africa president for the WCC from 1999 to 2006 and is a co-president of the Religions for Peace and the National Council of Churches of Kenya.

Speaking shortly after her election, she spoke of her desire for unity in the WCC.

"My open prayer is that we shall move forward together, in the next years, despite our diversities that have the potential to divide us, 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," she said.

In addition to Abuom, the Central Committee elected United Methodist Church Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, from the USA, and Prof Dr Gennadios of Sassima of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople as vice-moderators.

It will be the second term as a WCC vice moderator for Gennadios, who served as vice-moderator of the WCC's Faith and Order Commission from 1998 to 2006.