Sep. 12, 2018

WCC offers tribute to Marie Bassili Assaad.

Marie Bassili Assaad, an ecumenical leader who was deputy general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) from 1980 to 1986, passed away on 30 August, at the age of 96. Her funeral took place in Egypt on 2 September.

“Over seven decades Marie Assaad has equipped and enabled church and society to address controversial social and ecological issues with gentle grit, deep commitment, and unwavering resolve”, said Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary.

“Marie Assaad has been a deep inspiration to me”, said Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC deputy general secretary. “Even in an era when women were not taken seriously, she was a holistic and inclusive leader, who approached the most challenging issues that society faced, anchoring her work in deep spirituality, based on scientific evidence, remaining connected to the local communities and with the credibility to challenge those in power, with consistency, and without compromise.”

Assaad was a delegate to the WCC's Assembly in Nairobi in 1975, where she became a member of the working committee of WCC's Department of Cooperation of Women and Men.

In 1980, she was chosen as WCC deputy general secretary, making her the first woman and non-clerical figure to be appointed to the executive levels of the organization. A member of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Assaad was a deeply spiritual woman who played a key role in establishing the Coptic Church’s Bishopric for Social and Ecumenical Services.

Full text of the tribute from the World Council of Churches (

More on the WCC activities for a Just Community of Women and Men (