Posted on September. 16. 2022
KARLSRUHE, Germany—His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia has been elected as one of eight presidents of the World Council of Churches (WCC). He will represent the Oriental Orthodox churches. The election was held on September 5 by the 11th Assembly of the WCC, which is taking place in Germany until September 8.
Presidents serve as ex-officio members of the WCC’s central committee, and “according to the WCC Constitution the role of the WCC presidents is to promote ecumenism and interpret the work of the WCC, especially in their respective regions.”
The Catholicosate’s delegation to the assembly is composed of Archbishops Gomidas Ohanian; Sebuh Sarkissian; Kegham Khacherian; Nareg Alyemezian; Bishop Masis Zobuyan and Very Rev. Fr. Hrant Tahanian, as well as Prof. Teni Pirri-Simonian; Seta Khedeshian; Dr. Nora Kabakian-Bayrakdarian; Vanna Kitsinian; Tamar Kanarian (secretary of the Eastern US Prelacy’s Executive Council), and Araz Kojayan.
A first-time attendee at the WCC, Kanarian tells the Weekly that she has witnessed the impact and influence of Catholicos Aram I on the member churches of the WCC and the assembly. “We welcome the election of His Holiness Aram I to this prestigious honor of president,” said Kanarian. “His Holiness’ vast knowledge and experience in ecumenism is an asset to the global dialogue of Christian fellowship and unity. As a president of the global ecumenical movement, this election puts us in a position to address a range of concerning issues.”
A well-known ecumenical leader, Catholicos Aram I has served as moderator of the executive and central committees of the WCC for two terms: 1991-1998 and 1998-2006. He has authored several books on theological and ecumenical topics.
According to the WCC announcement, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I has not only been instrumental in Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic and Oriental Orthodox-Lutheran theological dialogues, but has also served as president of the Middle East Council of Churches since November 2007.
Fellow elected presidents include:
Africa – Rev. Dr. Rufus Okikiola Ositelu, Church of the Lord (Prayer Fellowship) Worldwide
Asia – Rev. Dr. Henriette Hutabarat-Lebang, Gereja Tora, a Reformed church in Indonesia
Caribbean and Latin America – Rev. Philip Silvin Wright, Anglican Cathedral Church of St. John the Baptist in Belize City
Europe – Rev. Dr. Susan Durber, United Reformed Church (United and Uniting)
North America – Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith, National Baptist Convention USA, Inc.
Pacific – Rev. François Phiaatae, Maòhi Protestant Church, a Reformed church
Eastern Orthodox – H.E. Metropolitan Dr. Vasilios of Constantia – Ammochostos, Church of Cyprus