The announcement was made by the WCC’s main governing body, its central committee.
Tveit, born on November 24, 1960, is general secretary of the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations. He was chosen during an August 26 – September 2 meeting of the WCC governing body. The Norwegian theologian will succeed General Secretary Samuel Kobia, a Methodist from Kenya, who stands down at the end of 2009.
A search committee proposed two candidates. 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 Korea. Kobia had announced at the last meeting of the Central Committee in February 2008 that for “personal reasons” he would not seek a second term in office at the head of the Geneva-based grouping that now has 349 member churches, principally Anglican, Orthodox, and Protestant.
In an interview with a German newspaper in advance of the election, Tveit said he would like to see increased contacts between the WCC and the world’s fast-growing Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, and greater cooperation between Protestants and Roman Catholics. The Catholic Church is not a WCC member but it has members on some WCC committees. Tveit also said that the WCC needed to give greater attention to relations with Islam.
Kobia was elected in 2003 to lead the Geneva-based grouping. He was the first African appointed to the post, and took up office in January 2004 for a five-year term. After he had announced in 2008 that he would not seek a second term, his tenure was temporarily extended.