The Way of Ecumenism
Gratitude and Commitment
The Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser was general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) from
1993 until his retirement in 2003. Born in Magdeburg, Germany, in 1938, Raiser joined the staff of
the WCC in 1969, as study secretary in the Commission on Faith and Order. In 1973, he was
appointed deputy general secretary, with responsibilities from 1979 as staff moderator of the unit on
Justice and Service. From 1983 to 1992, he was professor of systematic theology and ecumenics at the
Protestant theological faculty of the University of the Ruhr in Bochum, and director of the faculty’s
Ecumenical Institute. This article is an edited translation of an address to the ﬁrst
Ecumenical Kirchentag (church convention) in Berlin in May 2003.
This address to the Ecumenical Kirchentag in Germany in 2003 takes as its starting point
the symbol of the church as the people of God on the way together to describe the ecumenical
movement. This is a path that leads out of the security of structures, relying on the promise of God
as a response to the call of the gospel to faith and the path of discipleship – the way of pilgrimage
as it was described by the World Conference on Faith and Order in 1993 in Santiago de
Compostela. After looking back at the milestones on the ecumenical journey toward communion
in life, faith, and witness, the address highlights the signiﬁcance of a mutual recognition of
baptism by churches as representing a “Copernican revolution” in ecumenical dialogue, in which
churches would commit themselves to mutual accountability in matters of faith and church order.
Ecumenical movement, pilgrimage, Faith and Order, ecclesiology, baptism
I cannot begin this address on the ﬁrst day of this Ecumenical Kirchentag
without expressing my joy that this great ecumenical event has begun here in Berlin.
The preparations have been followed with great attention far beyond Germany, and many
(2018) World Council of Churches. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.