Faith and Action
Baldwin Sjollema grew up in the Netherlands during the Second World War and then embarked on a
lifetime of international work for the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the International
Labour Organization (ILO). He was the ﬁrst director of the WCC’s Programme to Combat
Racism. Among his other publications, he is the author of Never Bow to Racism: A Personal
Account of the Ecumenical Struggle (Geneva: WCC Publications, 2015).
This article reviews the role of Philip Potter as general secretary of the World Council of
Churches (1972–1984), highlighting his background in the Caribbean, his involvement in
mission, and his support for the Programme to Combat Racism. In doing so, it considers
those issues to which Potter was deeply committed, including the fundamental unity of
Christian witness and service, the correlation of faith and action, and the inseparable
connection between the personal spiritual life of Christian believers and their obedient action
in the world.
Philip Potter, World Council of Churches, ecumenical movement, Programme to Combat
Racism, biblical studies
For Philip Potter to follow in the footsteps of his two predecessors as general secretary
of the World Council of Churches (WCC) was not easy. Willem A. Visser ’t Hooft and
Eugene Carson Blake had been giants each in their own way. They set the WCC in
motion during the ﬁrst 25 years of its existence and gave it direction and strong
Realizing the daunting task he faced, Potter in his acceptance speech at the central com-
mittee meeting in Utrecht in 1972 related the story of the West Indian man who arrived
at the heavenly throne when all the various gifts were being handed out to the different
(2018) World Council of Churches. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.