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Statement by NCC General Secretary, the Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar

On the death of Brother Roger Schutz,
founder of the Taizé Community
August 17, 2005

Brother Roger Schutz, the 90-year-old Swiss Protestant who founded the ecumenical Taizé community in 1940 in the hills of eastern France, was stabbed to death during a prayer service there Aug. 16.  Authorities said a 36-year-old Romanian woman stabbed Brother Roger in the throat three times in view of 2,500 worshippers.  Reuters reported that he died immediately.  Police said onlookers overpowered and detained the woman.  Taizé, a popular place of pilgrimage for young people from all over the world during the 1950’s, continues to attract thousands of Catholics and Protestants who come there for worship and meditation.

On learning of the tragedy, General Secretary Bob Edgar of the National Council of Churches USA issued the following statement:

Brother Roger Schutz and the Taizé Community he founded ministered to millions of us by offering a model of living and worship that brings us closer to each other and to God. We respond to his untimely death with great sadness.

The prayers and hymns of the Taizé Community became more and more common in the spiritual lives of U.S. congregations as Americans responded to their messages of peace, reconciliation and spiritual depth. Tens of thousands of American congregations hold Taizé prayer services regularly and sing the meditative songs of Taizé. The Taizé community and Brother Roger in particular had a message and ministry for youth at a time when most of the church world avoided the youth culture. Young people responded with a constant stream of visits to Taizé.

The violent nature of his passing is appalling, and makes it all the more essential for us to embrace the message of his Taizé community.


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