UPDATE: Kobia says will not seek second WCC term

February 18, 2008

WCC logoThe Rev. Samuel Kobia has informed the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee that he won’t seek a second five-year term after all. The WCC has just put out a statement that “buries the lead,” as we say, by starting off saying it has appointed a search committee for a new head, to be elected in September. It then says Kobia had informed the Central Committee of his decision, citing personal reasons for not running again. His term ends in December.

The central committee received this news with regret but accepts the decision of the general secretary. We want to respect his decision and privacy,” WCC Central Committee moderator Rev. Dr. Walter Altmann said Monday night, according to the statement. “We want to express the deep gratitude of the World Council of Churches for the dedicated services he has given to the council since becoming general secretary in January 2004.


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at the beginning of the week, the WCC moderator said in a press conference that Rev Kobia would be judged on the whole body of his his work, a week later, at least from Reuters reporting so far, it seems that decisions are made depending on if the Germans are ‘fed up’. I hope Reuters will start to look beyond german church for a different angle on this story…

Its sad to see Rev Kobia go. We appreciate his work, good luck to him.

Posted by anne | Report as abusive

Anne, at the time of those reports, delegates refused to talk to reporters about the confidential discussions about Kobia and directed them to the criticism from the Germans. We were told others were also criticising him but had no details. This is a common tactic at delicate international discussions like this; delegates or officials sometimes do not tip their own hands but point to someone who already has done so to show reporters what the arguments are. Moreover, Bishop Hein’s criticism wasn’t just any old statement. If the Germans pay fully 1/3 of the whole budget for the WCC, their word carries far more weight than that of a church making a small contribution. Since the reports of Kobia’s withdrawal, we’ve heard more details about the others who were critical behind closed doors, but these delegates are not talking so we can’t quote them. You seem to imply that if we dug more, we would find a different angle that would be more positive for Kobia. The fact that he went into this meeting unopposed and stood down so unexpectedly points to more opposition than you seem to think existed.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive