The World Council of Churches has elected Kenyan Anglican Dr Agnes Abuom of Nairobi, as the Moderator of the highest WCC governing body and South African, Dr Mary-Anne Plaatjies-Van Huffel, Moderator of the Uniting Reformed Church (URC) in Southern Africa, as the Africa president of the WCC.
Abuom, who was elected on Friday (November 8) by the Central Committee of the WCC at the organisation’s 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea, became the first woman and the first African to head up the 65-year-old body. Platjies-Van-Huffel, who was one of eight regional presidents elected by the WCC on November 4, is the first woman Moderator of the URC.
Two vice-moderators were elected, United Methodist Church Bishop Mary Ann Swenson from the USA and Prof Dr Gennadios of Sassima of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
“My open prayer is that we shall move forward together, in the next years, despite our diversities that have the potential to divide us,” Abuom said shortly after her election, “…and that the WCC will continue to remain an instrument for providing a safe space for all who can come and share their hopes, aspirations and visions, and prophetic voice.”
Aboum said the prophetic voice is vital for “ecumenism in the 21st century and the church in our world today.”
As the first woman moderator of the worldwide body, Aboum says the model of consensus discernment “resonates very well with femine decision-making processes,” consultative and careful listening and seeking to understand the other person’s perspective.
Abuom has served on the WCC Executive Committee, representing the Anglican Church of Kenya. She is also a development consultant serving both Kenyan and international organisations coordinating social action programmes for religious and civil society across Africa.
Abuom was the Africa president for the WCC from 1999 to 2006. She has been associated with the All Africa Conference of Churches and WCC member churches in Africa. She is a co-president of the Religions for Peace and the National Council of Churches of Kenya.
Abuom’s areas of work include economic justice, peace and reconciliation.