As churches across the world absorb the significance for inter-Christian cooperation of the recent ground-breaking Global Christian Forum, the World Council of Churches has made a new appointment to a post aimed at promoting dialogue on key issues.
The Rev Canon Dr John Saint Helier Gibaut, from the Anglican Church of Canada, will head the WCC Commission on Faith and Order as of January 2008, the world ecumenical body announced today.
A scholar specialized in liturgical and historical theology, Dr Gibaut has extensive ecumenical experience, particularly in the area of national and international bilateral church dialogues. He currently teaches at the faculty of theology of Saint Paul University, Ottawa, Canada.
As it continues to "call the divided churches to healing and reconciliation," the work of Faith and Order is "as exciting and demanding today for the ecumenical movement as it was in the 1920s and beyond," says Gibaut about his future field of action. "The ongoing challenge is to broaden the circles and conversations around Faith and Order issues," he adds.
Dr Gibaut will replace the Rev Dr Thomas F. Best, who retires at the end of November 2007. Dr Best, a pastor of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the USA, has been with the Council for 23 years, acting as director of Faith and Order since 2004.
Faith and Order is a historic, founding movement of the WCC. The Commission on Faith and Order is mandated to study questions of faith, church order and worship which bear on the unity of the church, and also to examine social, cultural, political, racial and other factors which affect that unity.
The 120-member commission, which includes representatives of WCC member churches and also non-member churches such as the Roman Catholic Church, has been called the most representative church-based theological forum in the world.