Canadian ecumenist takes talents to international stage
Natasha Klukach, General Synod's coordinator for ecumenical relations, has been appointed to an international role that will make the most of her strong theological and relationship-building skills.
The Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has approved her appointment as Programme Executive: Church and Ecumenical Relations / North American Regional Relations at the WCC office in Geneva, Switzerland. Ms. Klukach is ready to take up her appointment in January 2011.
"I'm excited to be part of an organization that is so essential to the ecumenical movement," said Ms. Klukach in an interview. "The WCC has 349 member churches from around the world and is so broadly representative. This position is a chance to engage with a huge diversity of people, backgrounds, and theologies."
At the WCC, Ms. Klukach's first responsibility is to coordinate broad ecumenical relations across member churches, particularly in North America. This includes coordinating a gathering of national church council leadership for 2012.
Ms. Klukach will also oversee relations with, and among, the 31 member churches in the North American region, which includes the Anglican Church of Canada. She will attend church meetings in North America and stay abreast of important issues including mission, theology and social justice.
Ms. Klukach notes that one of the most pressing current topics for North American churches is interfaith relations.
"We've seen in North America, and especially in the past few months, the conversations that have been going on around interfaith issues," she said, "In particular the mosque being proposed in New York near the site of the Twin Towers and the issue of an independent pastor in Florida declaring that he was going to burn Qurans."
"This has illustrated a tension that exists in North America around interfaith issues," she said, "but it has also highlighted how the churches have worked together to promote a more positive and harmonious religious existence."
Strong tradition of Canadian ecumenists
Since January 2010, Ms. Klukach has served as half-time coordinator for ecumenical relations for the Anglican Church of Canada. In this position she has staffed several Canadian dialogues including the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue in Canada, the Joint Anglican-Lutheran Commission, and the Anglican-United Church dialogue.
Ms. Klukach currently serves on several international theological commissions, including the WCC's Standing Commission on Faith and Order, and the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue.
Ms. Klukach's WCC appointment continues a long tradition of Canadian Anglican ecumenists who have gone on to serve with international Christian organizations. This tradition includes former Primate Michael Peers who served on the WCC's central committee and more recently the Rev. Dr. John Gibaut, director of Faith and Order, WCC, and the Rev. Alyson Barnett-Cowan, director for Unity, Faith and Order at the Anglican Communion Office.
Ms. Klukach is currently researching Eastern Orthodox theology and spirituality as a doctoral student at the University of Toronto, Trinity College. She will continue her work with General Synod until December 2010.
"She's one of the very few Canadian theologians under the age of 60 who has the training and experience in ecumenical theology and skills that are necessary for fostering that dialogue," said the Rev. Dr. Eileen Scully, General Synod's interim director of Faith, Worship and Ministry. "She brings an incredible energy, enthusiasm, passion for relationships, and theological acumen—that is a rare combination of gifts."