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WCC general secretary in South Africa for the Mandela memorial service

By World Council of Churches (WCC)
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GENEVA, Switzerland, December 9, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday morning 9 December, to attend events in honour of Nelson Mandela who died Thursday, 5 December.

Monday afternoon Tveit will visit the Mandela home in Houghton, where he will lay roses and then offer condolences to the Mandela family. Afterwards he will be sharing in a prayer service with the family. The service will also involve South African church leaders.

On Tuesday, Tveit will attend the memorial service for Mandela being held at the First Bank Stadium near Johannesburg. Nearly 100 heads of state will be attending the ceremony.

"It important that the WCC be present in South Africa during the time when South Africans and all of us mourn the passing of one of the great leaders for justice and peace in our time," Tveit said.

"For the church it is a moment to recognize the longterm relationship that the WCC had with Mandela during the struggle against apartheid and the future of the church as we gain inspiration from his example in working for equality, reconciliation, justice and peace," Tveit said.

Mandela visited the WCC offices in June 1990, only a few months after his release from prison and in December 1998 spoke at the WCC 8th Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe.

On Wednesday, Tveit will be participating in an interfaith service in Pretoria. Mandela's body will then lie in state for the next three days. Tveit returns to the WCC offices in Geneva on Thursday and prepare for a memorial service for Mandela at the Ecumenical Centre on Monday, 16 December.