Tribute to the Very Rev. Dr. John Gatu

The World Communion of Reformed Churches received the news of the death of the Very Rev. Dr. John Gatu with a sense of sadness. He was a leader whose tremendous contribution to the Reformed family worldwide and the ecumenical movement in general are remarkable.

In 1964, at the 19th General Council of the then Alliance of Presbyterian Churches Holding on to the Presbyterian System (held in Frankfurt, Germany), Dr. Gatu was elected as a member of the Executive Committee. His contributions among other things led to the hosting of the Uniting General Council of 1970 in Nairobi, Kenya. It was at this General Council that the Presbyterian Alliance and the Congregational Council united to become the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. Soon after that he went on to play a pivotal role in the hosting of the World Council of Churches 5th Assembly in Nairobi.

He has since those years in the 1960s until fairly recently been very active in providing leadership and wise advice. His call for a moratorium on mission activities in Africa in the 1960s was made in the spirit of the WCRC’s long standing commitment to justice. When it was necessary to form a South African Alliance of Reformed Churches (SAARC) in order to have a strong force of support for churches against apartheid, he was a strong supporter.  Shortly after the official demise of apartheid in South Africa, he again inspired the formation of the current Africa-wide regional council, the African Communion of Reformed Churches. In 2009, when he was already in his mid-eighties, he attended a WARC theological consultation in Accra, Ghana, as a resource person.

The WCRC joins with many ecumenical organizations around the world in mourning and extend our condolences to the Presbyterian Church of East Africa and the family. We are grateful to God for the life of the Very Rev. Dr.  John Gatu. May he rest in peace.

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