LWF remembers ecumenical leader Agnes Abuom

1 Jun 2023

LWF joins the WCC in remembering Dr Agnes Abuom, former moderator of the WCC, a “visionary and courageous” ecumenical leader from Africa, who died on 31 May at the age of 73. 

Dr Agnes Abuom

Dr Agnes Abuom at the 11th Assembly of the WCC. Photo: Sean Hawkey/WCC

"A humble, committed and visionary leader” 

(LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) joins the World Council of Churches (WCC) and many other Christian communities in mourning the death of Dr Agnes Abuom, renowned for her courageous leadership in ecumenism, economic justice, peace and reconciliation. 

Recalling her commitment to the ecumenical movement, LWF General Secretary, Rev. Dr Anne Burghardt offered her “sincerest condolences to the WCC and to all who mourn the passing of this exceptional Christian leader.” She continued: “Dr Abuom made history as the first woman and first African in the role of WCC moderator. She was a humble, committed and visionary leader, who offered an excellent example of servant leadership to Christians around the world.” 

“She often referred to herself as ‘a child of the ecumenical movement’ and over her long years of service within the WCC and beyond, Dr Abuom worked tirelessly to build consensus and to advance the work of reconciliation between Christians worldwide,” added General Secretary Burghardt. 

Social justice, peace and reconciliation 

A member of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Abuom served from 2013 to 2022 as moderator of the WCC’s Central Committee. Earlier, as a development consultant with a doctorate in missiology, she worked for education and social justice in Kenya and other African countries, before being elected as Africa President for the WCC in 1999. 

Educated at missionary schools and at the University of Nairobi, her political engagement and Christian activism led to exile in Sweden and later to imprisonment in Kenya. Inspired by her grandmother, who stood up against the practice of female genital mutilation, she became a champion for gender justice and an ambassador for the WCC’s Thursdays in Black campaign to end gender-based violence. 

Among other positions she held, Aboum served on the All-Africa Conference of Churches’ advisory committee on peace, healing and reconciliation and was a member of the governing board of Interpeace, an international network for peacebuilding and reconciliation. In 2017, she was awarded the Lambeth Cross for Ecumenism by the Archbishop of Canterbury and in 2019 she received the National Council of Churches’ President’s Award for Excellence in Faithful Leadership.  

In December last year, Dr Abuom took on a new role as lay canon of the Anglican Church of Kenya. She died on 31 May at the age of 73. 

LWF/P. Hitchen