The World Council of Churches (WCC) 11th Assembly elected eight new presidents. Below, His Holiness, The Most Rev. Dr Rufus Okikiola Ositelu, WCC president for Africa, reflects on the new role, and a vision for how insights gained at the assembly will carry his task forward.
What inspires you most about taking on this important role within the WCC?
H.H Dr Ositelu: First and foremost, I am grateful to God for the privilege and to the WCC Africa region for the confidence reposed in me and the opportunity to serve in this capacity. Secondly, I am very much inspired to take up this important role within the WCC as it will offer the world Christian community much-needed opportunity to familiarize itself with Global South's Christian diversities, spirituality, gifts, and growth, which I believe will inspire much more the worldwide fellowship of churches to work together for unity, justice, and peace through the love of Christ Jesus. Today, the Global South is the center of growth of world Christianity, which should be a blessing for mutual understanding, love, and visible unity between the Global North and South.
What are your top concerns in your region or church?
H.H Dr Ositelu: The major concern in my region is about visible unity as Christ's love moves the world to reconciliation and unity. We need to truly live in the love of Jesus Christ, but not only speak about it. We as Christians cannot afford to be denomination-centric and continue to put each other down or be agents of hate. Rather, we need to be Christ-centric. We can only fulfill our mission of reconciliation when we become the doers of the Word of God. No wonder, the Bible says that we should be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving ourselves (James 1:22). Our knowledge of the Scriptures must affect our behaviour and attitudes. People must see Christ in us. The keyword here is obedience to the Word of God. The self-discipline of serving and obeying Christ Jesus can not be a burden to those who truly love Jesus Christ (1 John 5:3).
How has the WCC 11th Assembly helped move you forward on the path of reconciliation and peace in your particular context?
H.H Dr Ositelu: By the grace of God, I have been attending the WCC assembly since 1998 in Harare, Zimbabwe through the just-concluded 2022 WCC 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany. The WCC 11th Assembly was unique as it gave witness of a more united Christendom to the world, which is the calling of the WCC. I was happy to have worked together with other delegates from different parts of the world in the Public Issues Committee to discuss issues of international concern, including human rights, peace building, justice, etc. As WCC, I believe that we are on the pilgrimage of reconciliation, justice, peace, love, and unity in Christ Jesus. May God Almighty intervene in the affairs of the world. In the next eight years, I hope to work hard as the WCC President for Africa to bring hope to the region and use the opportunity to engage one another in Christ's love, and allow the Holy Spirit to move the world towards reconciliation, love, and unity.