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A Statement by General Secretary Bob Edgar

On Behalf of the National Council of Churches USA
On the Death of
Archbishop Iakovos

April 11, 2005

Generations of Americans were inspired by the presence of Archbishop Iakovos on all the frontlines of our history.

Born on the small island of Imvros in the Aegean Sea, as the Archbishop and spiritual leader of his American flock he continuously celebrated its gifts and encouraged it to fulfill its full potential in the landscape of America.

He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1965 in Selma, Ala., and was a fervent and outspoken champion for the cause of civil rights. His commitment to that cause was exemplified in the 1990's when he lent his support to a National Council of Churches USA campaign to raise funds for burned African American churches.

Under his leadership, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese grew from a small ethnic church community into a strong and vibrant church with a powerful voice for Christian ethics and values.

Archbishop Iakovos stood with Christians from many cultures and backgrounds to further the ideal of Christian unity. His deep belief in ecumenism was demonstrated by his strong support of ecumenical councils as well as his historic challenges to them. He was a president of the World Council of Churches and introduced Elenie K. Huszagh, Esq., immediate past president of the NCC, to ecumenism. He established dialogues with Protestant and Roman Catholics and carried his witness into the oval offices of nine U.S. presidents. All who knew him were gratified when he received the nation's highest civilian honor in 1980 when President Jimmy Carter bestowed upon him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

His Eminence, Archbishop Iakovos was a tireless servant of God who leaves a towering legacy of faith, justice and unity not only for all who knew and worked with him -- but for all who will benefit from his endeavors.

May his memory be eternal!

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