International Christian leaders have welcomed the election of Norwegian Lutheran theologian the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit as the next general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC).”(Mr.) Tveit brings to his new position broad experience that prepares him to lead in all the aspects of WCC’s work,” said the general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, the Rev. Ishmael Noko, after the announcement of Tveit’s election on Aug. 27.Mr. Tveit, born on Nov. 24, 1960, is general secretary of the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations. He was chosen during a Aug. 26 – Sept. 2 meeting of the WCC’s main governing body, its central committee, and is the second Lutheran to head the council in its 61-year history.Mr. Noko said Mr. Tveit would bring to his new position leadership in diaconical work, in advocacy, and in both ecumenical and interfaith relations. “He is a theologian and an administrator. And he is a person of deep faith, modest manner and forthright speech,” said Mr. Noko.”This is a crucial time in the life of an indispensable ecumenical body. The WCC plays a unique and vital role in the ecumenical movement: if we did not have a WCC, we would need to invent one,” noted Mr. Noko. “We look to the council as the global body where the churches of the world may communicate and cooperate on the basis of a common faith.”The Norwegian theologian will succeed the Rev. Samuel Kobia, a Methodist from Kenya, who stands down at the end of 2009.The Rev. Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), said, “I congratulate Olav Tveit on his election and pledge that WARC will continue to work closely with the WCC under his leadership.”The WCC has 349 members, principally Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant churches. The Roman Catholic Church does not belong to the WCC but has members on some of its committees.Archdeacon Colin Williams, general secretary of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), said, “In his support and participation in the life of CEC in the last years, as well as through his work on behalf of the Church of Norway, the general secretary-elect has demonstrated his deep commitment to the ecumenical journey,” said Archdeacon Williams.He added, “With the whole of CEC, I look forward to working with the new general secretary and with the WCC in the coming years.”From Germany, the country’s senior Protestant bishop, Wolfgang Huber, described Mr. Tveit’s election as a sign of the confidence that the Norwegian theologian would lead the global ecumenical movement to a sound future.Bishop Huber, who heads the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), the country’s biggest Protestant umbrella, said that Mr. Tveit would bring “great experience in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue” to his new ecumenical ministry.The general secretary of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, Austrian Lutheran Bishop Michael Bunker, also congratulated Mr. Tveit on his election. Bishop Bunker stated that the global crisis called for the Church to make its voice heard. “We wish with all our hearts that your work for the World Council will bring this vision nearer,” stated Bishop Bunker.The community groups more than 100 Lutheran, Reformed, United, Methodist and other Protestant churches.