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Rev. Dr Philip Potter - A world icon

Sunday April 10, 2011, @ 11:41 p.m.

Later in that same year, he was honored by the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) the same group that had voiced displeasure with his support of Robert Mugabe. In a statement released by the group, it stated, "it is in part thanks to Potter that today more than 560 million Christians in 349 churches in over 110 countries are members of the World Council of Churches."
philip potter
A youthful Reverend Potter

Over the past several years he has received no fewer than nine honorary doctorates from universities across the globe including the University of the West Indies and the University of Cape Town - recognition of how much the ecumenical commitment to end apartheid owed to his leadership.

The library of the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, which contains over 120,000 volumes, 1,300 specialized periodicals, some over a century old, and more than 12,000 boxes of archives containing nearly 20 million irreplaceable documents was renamed the Philip A. Potter Library.

Reverend Potter is also recipient of the Niwano Peace prize, which is awarded to distinguished religious leaders for their efforts to promote peace.

Last year, he told a newspaper interviewer that while the accolades were great what really gave him pleasure was “learning how Nelson Mandela when in prison heard that the churches of the world were with him and with all those suffering in the cause of freedom, and how much encouragement that brought them.”

During that same interview he reflected on the ecumenical movement of today. He talked rather nostalgically of something he thinks may have been lost at the level of church and ecumenical leadership - the close and friendly relationships that he had, for example, with Roman Catholics including Pope Paul VI and especially the short-lived Pope John Paul I who took a close personal interest in him when his first wife Doreen was close to death. "The personal aspect is always very important."

bishop Bärbel Wartenberg-Potter
The wife of Rev Potter Bishop Bärbel Wartenberg-Potter.

Today, at the age of 89, reverend Potter resides in Germany with his wife his wife, retired Lutheran bishop Bärbel Wartenberg-Potter who at one time headed the Lutheran Church in Germany.

His first wife Doreen whom he met while in London was born in Panama and received her primary and secondary education in Jamaica. She was an accomplished pianist and violinist.

Her song "Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ" and sung to her tune LINSTEAD is now widely sung all over the world and appears in most all denominational hymnals in the United States. Unfortunately, she died of cancer in 1980 at the age of 55.

Dr Potter has credited his longevity to his abiding faith in God and his keen sense of humor. "When I left school, I worked with a lawyer and the attorney general. So I had a very early experience of what the world was like! I learnt the importance of humor. It's never been my style to be very formal and serious. I prefer a natural style of staying human and humorous.”

And I have a heritage that enabled me to do this. My grandmother came of aristocratic Irish stock. Her death when I was nine years old was the first tragedy of my life. But she used to tell me, ‘Philip, always be a gentleman!'" Page 1|Page 2|Page 3

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