The third general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Dominican, Dr. Philip Potter, has died.
Potter, described a “world icon,” died on March 31 at the age of 93 in Lübeck, Germany.
He served as General Secretary of the WCC between 1972 and 1984.
The WCC described him as “a global ecumenical leader known for accompanying churches around the world in their struggles for unity, justice and peace.”
“Almost everyone I meet who has a strong image of or a strong opinion about the World Council of Churches links this to Philip Potter,” Fykse Tveit, the WCC general secretary said in tribute. “First as a young delegate at conferences and assemblies, then as a member of staff, and later as WCC general secretary, Philip has always brought high visibility to the Council.”
He added, “He was ever ready to open debates, to offer the WCC as an open space for ecumenical reflection and action and to make known his own positions. Philip Potter remains as ever, a credible witness to the vision of the kingdom of God and its true values of ‘righteousness’ peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans. 14:17b).”
Potter was born in Roseau on 19 August 1921.
The WCC said he began his ecumenical involvement as part of the student Christian movement in the Caribbean. He was a youth representative to the first two assemblies of the WCC at Amsterdam (1948) and Evanston (1954). He was the first person from the newly independent countries in the world to be elected as general secretary of the WCC. Among the most memorable achievements during Potter’s tenure were the theological consensus document on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry and the continuation of a courageous campaign against apartheid in southern Africa and against other forms of racism throughout the world.
The WCC also said he “made significant contributions to the vigorous debate on the nature of post-colonial Christian mission and evangelism, the churches’ witness for peace amidst East-West tensions, the raising of questions concerning the ecological crisis and encouragement of campaigns challenging the threat of nuclear annihilation. In this era the WCC also sponsored the development of new forms of spirituality, common prayer and music drawing on the diverse traditions and confessions of diverse churches.”
“Before joining the WCC, Potter served as staff of the Methodist Missionary Society in London. He represented the Jamaica Student Christian Movement at the 1947 world conference on Christian youth in Oslo, Norway. Potter was an active participant in every WCC assembly from 1948 to the 9th Assembly at Porto Alegre, Brazil (2006).”
The WCC represents over 350 protestant, Methodist, Anglican and orthodox catholic churches, with over half a billion adherents worldwide.