Berit Hagen Agoslashy, general secretary of the Council on Ecumenical and International Relations in the Church of Norway, is passionate about changing the world for the better and fighting the injustice that exists.
She has been committed to this cause since childhood, when she and her family spent a year in Uganda. In her teenage years, she got involved in South Africa and opposition to apartheid.
This interest led Berit towards various tasks, including a Master’s thesis on South Africa and a range of different assignments within the church – from information on developing countries and work on human rights to becoming an elected representative of the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations and her current post of general secretary. She has also had a career outside the church as a history teacher.
“My encounters with people in South Africa made a deep impression on me – getting to meet people who take the gospel seriously and experiencing their courage to face life. It’s so easy for us, for example in Norway, who have everything, to still complain. I carry their courage and joie de vivre with me,” says Berit Hagen Agoslashy.
Hagen Agoslashy also highlights the g growth in the churches of the South. In the North, interest and commitment are flagging, but they are growing in the South. There is a clear desire on the part of Hagen Agoslashy to harness this commitment.
Religious dialogue essential
In Norway, a lot of time and energy are being spent on the work concerning religious dialogue between Christians, Jews and Muslims. This work is essential in terms of establishing a joint forum and is greatly influenced by the situation in the Middle East, according to Hagen Agoslashy, who is firmly committed to improving the situation in the region.
“I’m greatly moved by what Christians are exposed to there on a daily basis. I don’t think we’ve really understood their vulnerability and what Jerusalem being emptied of Christians means.”
“I’m furious when I visit Augusta Victoria Hospital and meet seriously ill patients who have no chance of meeting their nearest and dearest because of the existing regulations. There are people who are dying who will never see their families again because they’re not allowed to visit the area where the hospital is located. This is so humiliating, and it violates their dignity. The situation really makes me angry,” says Hagen Agoslashy.
Hagen Agoslashy has a special mandate to represent the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in order to conduct a dialogue on land rights in Israelalestine.
A unifying force
“The WCC is greatly needed in the work for peace and in tackling global injustice. I have great faith in the global fellowship of churches and its role in the future. It’s crucial that the WCC is able to focus and has the courage to channel its resources,” she says.
Hagen Agoslashy believes that the theme of “the pilgrimage of justice and peace” can open up new methods of working and provide a new focus for the work of the global fellowship of churches.
The Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations is tasked with coordinating the work between the Church of Norway and other churches, as well as contacts with the World Council of Churches, Lutheran World Federation and the Conference of European Churches. Berit Hagen Agoslashy succeeded Olav Fykse Tveit as general secretary of the Council on Ecumenical and International Relations in 2010.
Source : World Council of Churches