Peacemaking Ecumenist Agnes Abuom of Kenya Dies at 73

Agnes Abuom speaks during a news conference at the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in 2022. | Sean Hawkey/WCC

Adapted from Anglican Communion News Service

Dr. Agnes Abuom, a peacemaker who left Kenya for 13 years amid suspicion of her political activities, has died at 73.

Abuom’s long involvement with the World Council of Churches (WCC) began in 1975, when its assembly met in Nairobi.

When Abuom left Kenya in 1976, she moved to Sweden, learned Swedish, and earned a degree in education. She spent two years as a youth worker for the WCC in Geneva before returning to Sweden, where she completed a doctorate in missiology. She returned to more youth work with the WCC in the 1980s and later worked with refugees in Sudan and as a tutor in Zimbabwe.

She returned to Kenya in 1989 and was imprisoned for her opposition to President Daniel arap Moi. On her release, she worked for the Anglican Church of Kenya on national development issues and civic education.

Her involvement in WCC leadership began in 1998, when she attended the assembly in Harare as a delegate of the Anglican Church of Kenya.

She was a member of the WCC’s Central Committee for three consecutive terms: as president, between 1998 and 2006; as a member between 2006 and 2013; and as moderator between 2013 and 2022. Her term as moderator of the central committee concluded in September 2022.

Bishop Anthony Poggo, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, was among many church leaders paying tribute to Abuom.

“Dr. Abuom’s contribution to ecumenism and peace building were recognized globally and also within the Anglican Communion. In 2017, she was awarded the Lambeth Cross for Ecumenism by the Archbishop of Canterbury,” he said.

“She had a passion for faith, for social justice, and for Christian unity, and brought this, with her many gifts, to her long service on the committees and meetings of the WCC, where she served as president and moderator. I thank God for her life and witness. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.”


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