World Council of Churches Office of Communication
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18 January 2000

Ruth Sovik


cf. WCC Press Release of 13 January 2000

The following tribute to Ruth Sovik has been paid by Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC):

"The World Council of Churches and many ecumenical friends around the world join her family in mourning the death of Ruth Sovik. Together with her husband Arne she bravely, and out of a deep faith commitment, endured a long and debilitating illness. Now she has been relieved of her suffering and granted eternal peace. In our sadness, we are filled with gratitude for her life in our midst and give thanks to God for her strong ecumenical witness. With her loving and generous spirit, she was the vital centre of her extended family; we pray for Gods consoling and comforting presence with them as they mourn her loss.

After having served as a missionary in Asia, Ruth Sovik joined the staff of the WCCs Commission on World Mission and Evangelism in 1965, and for the following quarter century, her life was intimately linked with the ecumenical movement. Since 1978, when she became deputy director of the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, until her retirement in 1991, she occupied increasingly responsible positions of leadership, both in the WCC and in the World YWCA, finishing with six years as deputy general secretary and staff moderator of the WCCs Unit on Justice and Service.

Mission, in the sense of serving Gods purpose in and for the world, was Sovik's life commitment, whether as managing editor of the International Review of Mission, as general secretary of the YWCA or as deputy general secretary of the WCC with responsibility for coordinating the process for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation. In her holistic understanding, the missionary calling included the struggle for justice as well as advocacy for human rights. With her warm and lively personality, she left a strong mark on the larger staff community of the WCC and empowered many, not least women, in their contribution to the common ecumenical calling. Her former colleagues and friends will keep fond and loving memories of Ruth Sovik."


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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.