New boss set for World Council of Churches

For those interested in global ecumenism…

A Norwegian theologian and pastor was elected today to serve as the 7th secretary general of the World Council of Churches, a fellowship of 349 denominations.

The Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit is only 48, making him the youngest man to get the top job.

He is a pastor in the Church of Norway, a Lutheran church that is the state church of Norway and is headed, officially, by the King of Norway.

Tveit is currently general secretary of the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations. He is also a member of the WCC Faith and Order Plenary Commission and is co-chair of the WCC Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum “core group.”

“This task I really feel is the call of God. I feel that we have a lot to do together,” Tveit said in his acceptance speech.

The WCC was formed in 1948 to seek “unity, a common witness and Christian service.” Its membership includes most significant Orthodox, Protestant and Anglican churches.

The Roman Catholic Church is not a formal member but works closely with the WCC in many ways.

The current secretary general, the Rev. Samuel Kobia, a Methodist from Kenya, was elected in 2004 but chose not to seek a second term.

One American has served as secretary general. Eugene Carson Blake, a Presbyterian, held the job from 1966 to 1972.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.