Marga Buhrig

Published April 1, 2002

Marga Buhrig, a former president of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and one of Switzerland’s pioneering feminist theologians, died in February. She was 86. Born in Berlin in 1915, Ms. Buhrig moved as a child with her family to Switzerland, where she became active in the struggle for women’s rights in church and society, often impatient at the slowness of male-dominated churches and ecumenical bodies in giving women their rightful place. In 1983 she was elected one of the WCC’s seven presidents, a post she held until 1991. At the time, she said that she had hesitated before accepting the nomination, given her negative experience of church bodies. Two years later, she spoke of having become part of the structure, saying she felt “the continuing patriarchy much more.” What was important about the ecumenical movement, she said, was not that traditional churches were taking tiny steps towards rapprochement, but rather that the WCC remained “a movement towards the poor and oppressed”. One of her last responsibilities as a WCC president was as co-moderator of the WCC’s World Convocation for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation in Seoul in 1990.


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