World Council of Churches mourns loss of staff member in Ethiopian Airlines crash

Rev Norman Tendis(Photo: WCC/Marcelo Schneider)

The World Council of Churches was today mourning the death of the Rev Norman Tendis, one of the 157 people killed in the tragic Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 was heading to Nairobi, Kenya but crashed minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa, killing everyone on board.  The cause of the crash is still unknown but some airlines have made the decision to ground the Boeing model following the disaster.

Rev Tendis worked as a consultant for the WCC in its work to help churches invest their resources in making a better planet and had been on his way to the UN Environment Assembly, which began on Monday.

He had been due to present to the assembly a roadmap for an 'economy of life' for congregations, communities and churches that he had worked on with WCC colleagues. 

His previous work had included supporting small-scale agriculture, ethical investment, climate-friendly mobility and other practices aimed at sustainable living.

Rev Tendis, who was also a Lutheran pastor in Austria, was remembered today at a memorial service held in the chapel of the WCC's headquarters in Geneva. 

A picture of the Rev Norman Tendis displayed at his memorial service(Photo: WCC/Ivars Kupcis)

WCC general secretary the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit paid tribute to him and all the victims of the crash, saying that the world had lost many experts committed to global sustainability.

'We express our deepest condolences on the passing of the all the people on board the aircraft, and we have particular anguish upon the loss of our own Rev Norman Tendis, who was passionately carving out a path for economic and environmental justice,' he said. 

'This had been his compassion and vision for years.'

Prof Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC deputy general secretary, said: 'Norman walked his talk. He was deeply rooted and committed to his congregation, and was committed to share his experiences and vision with the wider ecumenical family.

'His focus and enthusiasm was how each local church can contribute to the economic and ecological justice, in the marketplaces, in the communities, among the nations, and with the earth.'