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Ruth Sovik (1928-2000)
Sovik's life was marked by long-term and dedicated involvement in the ecumenical movement. In 1965 Sovik - an American Lutheran - joined the WCC as editorial assistant for the International Review of Mission, a publication of the WCC's Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME), whose deputy director she became in 1978.
Sovik left the WCC in 1980 to become associate general secretary of the World Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) and later, in 1983, its general secretary.
In 1985 the WCC Central Committee meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina , appointed her as one of three deputy general secretaries. She held this position until her retirement in 1991, when she returned to her home country. As deputy general secretary, Sovik also served as staff moderator for the Unit on Justice and Service, one of the three programme arms in the previous WCC structure.
In that capacity Sovik devoted considerable energy to a major WCC emphasis: the "Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation" (JPIC) programme. Describing her work in this area as "challenging, extremely interesting, extremely satisfying," she once suggested that "If the churches can truly work together on some of the issues that plague the world - and threaten to plague it to death - we have in our hands astonishing riches, a tremendous strength, an enormous respectability to put at the service of those issues, plus vast resources of trained and experienced leadership which could make all the difference in the world's having a future at all."
An official WCC tribute to Ruth Sovik will follow.
The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 337, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.