World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Release
150 route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
E-mail: media

4 October 2000

Ecumenical organisations pay tribute to Alain Blancy

The general secretaries of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) have paid tribute to Pastor Alain Blancy, who died on 30 September at the age of 73 after battling cancer for several years. Blancy was a pastor of the Reformed Church in France and served as assistant director of the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey between 1971 and 1981.

Rev. Dr Setri Nyomi, WARC general secretary, praised Blancy as "one of the sharpest minds in the Reformed Church of France". "He made a distinguished contribution to the life of the Reformed family - at the level of his own church, within the European area of the Alliance, and internationally," Nyomi said, "but he combined a penetrating intellect with a warm, compassionate humanity and a strong sense of humour."

"I had the pleasure of an extended conversation with him during our 23rd general council (Debrecen, 1997), where he served, in retirement, as one of our principal interpreters. It quickly became clear to me that Alain was more than an interpreter in the narrow technical sense. He was a man with a rare capacity to interpret the Reformed tradition in ways which brought it to bear compellingly on the issues of today. He will be greatly missed."

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser expressed "deep gratitude" for all that Alain Blancy had "given to the ecumenical movement through decades of active involvement". In his tribute to Blancy, Raiser recalled some of the stages in the ecumenical journey of a man who "left a strong mark on the life of the World Council of Churches through his work as Assistant Director of the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey":

"Even prior to joining the staff of the WCC, he had been involved in ecumenical initiatives in different contexts as a pastor of the Reformed Church of France. Several of these areas of involvement became even more important for Alain Blancy after having left the Ecumenical Institute to return to France and serve a community of the Reformed Church of France at Lyon.

"This is particularly true for his participation in the Groupe des Dombes, an ecumenical study group that became widely known through the 1991 publication of a study on ecumenical convergences in the area of mariology, under the title For the Conversion of the Churches. As co-president of the Groupe, Alain Blancy contributed decisively to the shaping of these important fruits of ecumenical dialogue between the Roman Catholic and the Reformation traditions.

"Alain Blancy's ecumenical witness was rooted in his personal history, having been born in Germany to a family of Jewish origin which had converted to Christianity in the Protestant tradition. Through emigration to France and later deportation back to Germany, he was exposed to many of the sufferings, tragedies and contradictions of this historical period which is inseparably interlinked with the emergence of the World Council of Churches. The earliest separation within the people of God, i.e., that between Jews and Christians, became more and more the decisive ecumenical challenge for him towards the end of his life. Until a few days before his death, he was working on a lecture about 'Christian Theology after the Shoah'.

Alain Blancy will be remembered as one among the cloud of ecumenical witnesses of the 20th century. His passion for unity, the clarity of his vision, and the generosity of his personality in spite of the bitter memories which shaped his younger years, will remain a precious legacy for a new ecumenical generation."

For more information contact:
the Media Relations Office
tel.: (+41 22) 791 6153 (office);
e-mail: media
Top of page

2000 press releases

WCC homepage

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.