New chief of church council says he will bring an African perspective

Posted: Friday, September 05, 2003

GENEVA (AP) The Rev. Samuel Kobia of Kenya said his experience facing challenges in Africa will help him lead the World Council of Churches when he becomes its secretary general in January.

Kobia will be the first African to head the 55-year-old global organization of Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox churches. He was elected Aug. 28 to succeed the Rev. Konrad Raiser of Germany.

''One of the things that we say marks Africans is the capacity and the ability to celebrate life even in the midst of death, is the capacity to be hopeful even in a situation that looks hopeless,'' Kobia said.

''I personally bring experience of a person who like any typical African has gone through very, very difficult situations,'' Kobia said. ''What has sustained me is this capacity to hope. This is what I intend to bring into the World Council of Churches.''

Kobia said in his acceptance speech that the council was seeing signs of recovery and he would strive to improve its finances. In the last seven years, its income has declined by more than half, to about $30 million.

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