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Tributes paid to Dr Agnes Abuom, WCC figure and Kenyan Anglican

06 June 2023

Albin Hillert/WCC

Dr Agnes Abuom opens the first thematic plenary of the WCC’s 11th Assembly, in Karlsruhe, Germany, in September

Dr Agnes Abuom opens the first thematic plenary of the WCC’s 11th Assembly, in Karlsruhe, Germany, in September

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has paid tribute to the late Dr Agnes Abuom, an Anglican lay canon in Kenya, known for her ecumenical work and peacemaking. She died, age 73, on Wednesday of last week, after a short illness.

Dr Abuom was the first African and first woman to be elected Moderator of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC). She has been widely described as a passionate ecumenist and peacemaker, whose ministry took her around the world.

Archbishop Welby had met Dr Abuom in South Sudan and Burundi and awarded her a Lambeth Cross for Ecumenism in 2017, he said on Tuesday. She had “devoted her life to Church unity, peace in war torn countries, and giving voice to issues that concern the unheard people in troubled parts of the world.

“She was a woman of deep faith who believed that every difficult situation should be taken to God in prayer, and that opponents in conflict or disagreement should be encouraged to meet and have dialogue.”

Dr Abuom was elected Moderator at the WCC’s tenth Assembly in Busan, in South Korea, and served until the next Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany, in September 2022. She was president for the WCC from 1999 to 2006.

The WCC’s general secretary, the Revd Dr Jerry Pillay, said: “She was a woman of humble spirit, great compassion and steadfast faith. Though small in frame yet she possessed the energy, strength and vision for leadership far beyond the reach of many people her age.”

The Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Revd Jackson Ole Sapit, also paid tribute. “We are forever grateful to God for having given us such a devout Christian, and a person of great international repute.

“As the former Provincial Development Coordinator, Dr Abuom played a pivotal role in advancing matters of national peace and advocacy. She was the second National Director of Anglican Development Services, then the Human Development Department of the Anglican Church of Kenya. As the Director, she provided strategic leadership to the development and advocacy work of ACK

“Her life has impacted so many ecumenists worldwide and she leaves behind a rich legacy of humble, tested, thoughtful and committed leader.”

The Anglican Communion’s secretary-general, Bishop Anthony Poggo, gave thanks for “her outstanding and exemplary leadership” in the Anglican Church of Kenya, the Anglican Communion, and the WCC. “She had a passion for faith, for social justice and for Christian unity, and brought this, with her many gifts.”

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