|Two world Christian groups honor Methodist leader John Mott|
Nov. 7, 2005
John Raleigh Mott
By Stephen Brown*
GENEVA (ENI) — John Raleigh Mott, a Nobel Peace Laureate who was the
first honorary president of the World Council of Churches, has been
honored in Geneva where the ecumenical organization has its
At a Nov. 4 tribute of Mott — who died in 1955 at the age of 89 — the
Rev. Samuel Kobia, the WCC’s chief executive, noted one of the sayings
of the U.S. Methodist layperson: “Plan as if there were no such thing as
prayer. Pray as if there were no such thing as planning.”
Kobia, who is a Methodist himself, was accepting a gift to the WCC of
a portrait of Mott from the World Student Christian Federation, of
which the New York-born Methodist was a founder, chief executive and
chairman. The federation celebrates its 110th anniversary this year.
It was in these roles, and as president of the World Alliance of
Young Men’s Christian Associations, that Mott helped to build the
network of movements, conferences, agencies and churches that would make
possible the creation of the WCC in 1948, Kobia noted.
Mott, who grew up in Iowa, began his career as a missionary statesman
in the Student Volunteer Movement of the late 19th century, and soon
thereafter became a traveling secretary for the YMCA. He was one of the
six founders of the World Student Christian Federation in 1895.
“A Methodist layman, he was one of the great champions of the
ministry of the laity. And even in his 90th and final year, he
encouraged the full participation of students, young people and lay
people in both Christian service and leadership,” Kobia said.
Mott was a forceful advocate of the need to create the World Council
of Churches and was the preacher at the opening service of the WCC’s
inaugural assembly in Amsterdam in 1948.
Michael Wallace, the student federation’s chief executive and also
based in Geneva, said in presenting the portrait, “Mott’s influence was
and is enormous. It is impossible to say how many people he inspired to
go into missions, how many students he inspired through WSCF, what
influence he had on international affairs, and how many people were
brought into the ecumenical movement by him.”
Mott shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 for his work in
establishing and strengthening international Christian student
organizations that worked to promote peace.
*This story was distributed by Ecumenical News International.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Federation provides students with network of solidarity
Student Christian Federation looks to future
World Student Christian Federation-Europe
Bio: John R. Mott
World Council of Churches