“I would like to continue the WCC’s strong relations with the Roman Catholic
Church and make them even stronger,” Olav Fykse Tveit, a 48-year-old ordained pastor in the Church of Norway, told journalists after his election in Geneva today (August 27).
Tveit is currently general secretary of the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations. He will be the second Lutheran to head the church grouping in its 61-year history.
On relations with Islam, Tveit said, “We look around where we are and see that Christian-Muslim relations are very important.” He noted. “The WCC provides added value in Christian-Muslim relations because we represent so many contexts.”
The WCC said that Tveit will be the church grouping’s youngest general secretary since Willem A. Visser ‘t Hooft, who had led the WCC while it was in process of formation and following its founding assembly in 1948.
After Tveit’s election was announced, he was greeted by resounding applause from the 150-member central committee and from WCC staff who crowded into the hall where the meeting was taking place.
“This task I really feel is the call of God. I feel that we have a lot to do together,” said Tveit in his acceptance speech, describing himself as, “humbled but also very glad, overwhelmed, but committed.”
Two candidates had been proposed from a group of six by a search committee to the WCC governing body. The second candidate was Park Seong-won, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church of Korea and a professor of theology at Youngnam Theological University and Seminary in Kyeongsan, South
Tveit said he was impressed that the central committee had prayed for both candidates. He said, “I need it even more now, so please don’t stop.”