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

1 July 1999


The general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, has expressed his gratitude for the long-standing service of Revd. Father Georges Tsetsis in a letter to His Holiness Bartholomew I.

Georges Tsetsis has reached retirement age after more than 30 years of ecumenical service.

Tsetsis became the permanent representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 1985, having previously served as the Middle East secretary in the WCC Commission on Inter-Church Aid and Refugee Service (CICARWS), and later as its deputy director. From 1961 to 1964 he was archdeacon of the Princes Islands Diocese in Istanbul.

In 1988 he received a doctorate of theology from the University of Thessaloniki, Greece. He has published over 70 articles on theological, liturgical and ecumenical issues in Greek, English and French.

Letter to His Holiness Bartholomew I from WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser:

"Your All Holiness, It is with very mixed feelings that I write to you today, the day on which the Reverend Great Protopresbyter Georges Tsetsis, the Permanent Representative of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to the World Council of Churches, retires from active office.

I write with feelings of gratitude first to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to Your All Holiness personally. The long years which the Revd Father Georges Tsetsis has devoted to the whole ecumenical movement, and to the World Council in particular, are an eloquent illustration and tangible proof of your Church’s spirit of openness and ecumenical commitment, and of the caring concern which Constantinople has always shown towards the World Council of Churches.

Feelings of gratitude likewise to the Revd Father Tsetsis for his constructive and varied contribution to the life and mission of the World Council of Churches. As a faithful servant of the teachings of the Gospel and a man of dialogue, he has been able over the years - in an outstanding way - to combine faithfulness to his own tradition and openness to the richness of others, human relations and scientific research, simplicity of outlook and generosity of heart and spirit.

We are all indebted to Orthodox theology for showing us the close link between 'the sacrament of the altar' and the 'sacrament of the brothers and sisters'. For many of us here, the Revd Father Georges Tsetsis has been the celebrant of the sacrament of the altar according to the tradition of his church, but also the celebrant of the sacrament of the brothers and sisters with many, many colleagues in the inter-church aid department of the World Council of Churches. When we talk today of a theology of diakonia in an ecumenical perspective, we must acknowledge and express our appreciation of the personal contribution made by Father Georges Tsetsis.

Anchored in the tradition and ethos of the Phanar and in the dynamic of an ecumenical vision constantly renewed and constantly to be perfected, the Revd Father Georges Tsetsis has been able to read, interpret and play a living part in the history of the ecumenical movement. He has been a true ambassador, working tirelessly for a more visible and fruitful rapprochement between the churches, for a better understanding of one another and ever-greater collaboration in the service of reconciliation and unity.

This brings me naturally to our feelings of regret, the sadness one feels on losing a long-time colleague and friend, a faithful companion on the journey and valued counsellor. The Revd Father Georges Tsetsis will be greatly missed. We shall feel his absence greatly in our everyday life here and shall long remember his spontaneous and generous attention to each and every one on every occasion.

However, I should not like to conclude on a note of regret. A long ministry of almost forty years is reaching completion today, but I am delighted that the Revd Father Georges Tsetsis will remain among us as a member of our Executive and Central Committees, willing as always to share his wisdom and experience and encourage many brothers and sisters to persevere patiently on the long road to reconciliation and unity; ready, too, to accept a sensitive mission in constant and devoted service to his Church and to World Council of Churches.

I share these thoughts with Your All Holiness, giving thanks to God for this blessed and fruitful ministry, and send you warm greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

For more information contact:
Karin Achtelstetter, Media Relations Officer
tel.: (+41 22) 791 6153 (office);
e-mail: media
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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 336, 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.