An eminent Malawian theologian and ecumenist Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri has joined the World Council of Churches (WCC) as its new associate general secretary for Public Witness and Diakonia.
She was elected to her position at the WCC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, this month.
In a statement Nyasa Times accessed through WCC website, Apawo Phiri, a Malawian by nationality, was a professor of African theology, dean and head of the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, and director of the Centre for Constructive Theology at the University of KwaZulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
According to the website, the new associate general secretary also served as editor of the Journal of Gender and Religion in Africa.
The new associate general secretary holds a masters degree in religious education from the University of Lancaster, England, and a doctorate in religious studies from University of Cape Town, South Africa.
The website further states that Apawo Phiri’s main responsibilities at the WCC will be setting direction for the council’s programmatic work in the area of Public Witness and Diakonia, and strengthening relations with the member churches and ecumenical organizations.
“While she will lead implementation of programmes with member churches, she will also support project team coordinators at the council itself,” writes the WCC website.
Commenting on Apawo Phiri’s joining of the council, WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said, “Isabel’s engagement in the ecumenical movement, especially her academic contributions to the African theology and women concerns, are not new. With her leadership, we at the WCC hope to benefit from her gifts and capabilities.”
“We welcome her in this ecumenical family. We hope that at the WCC she will be able to build relationships among churches and give leadership to our global ministry for diakonia, justice and peace,” added Tveit.
WCC is a worldwide fellowship of 349 churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service and this is the first time for a black African woman to hold such a powerful position.