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New Presiding Bishop of the Bishops’ Conference of Norway: "There is lots to be done, and we have lots to contribute"

Press release by Church of Norway, 30 January 2020: New Presiding Bishop of the Bishops’ Conference of Norway

30 January 2020

Press release by Church of Norway, 30 January 2020

On 30 January, the Church Council of Norway (Kyrkjerådet) appointed the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit (59), as the new Presiding Bishop of the Bishops’ Conference of Norway (Bispemøtet).

– A bishop should listen to others while unifying and uniting the diversity of our church under our common faith. As Presiding Bishop, a particular responsibility rests on you to be a representative for the entire church while also being a public figure. This means that disseminating your message in a favourable manner is sometimes more important than dominating the debate and getting the last word in, the newly appointed bishop says.

Among the 12 bishops, the Presiding Bishop is «a first among equals» (primus inter pares). He or she leads the Bishops’ Conference and is also the dean of the Nidaros arch-deanery in Trondheim, Norway. The Presiding Bishop is based at the Nidaros Cathedral along with the Bishop of the Diocese of Nidaros. – I look forward to making new connections in Trøndelag county, where an important part of my adolescence took place, Fykse Tveit says.

Responsible for listening to many people. Olav Fykse Tveit emphasises his affinity for proclaiming the gospel and his commitment to extending the reach of its message.

– Based on what has been given to us through our faith in the resurrected Christ, we have lots to contribute. There is lots at stake. There is lots of work to be done, he says.

– Doing useful work, and preferably something new, is important to me. As such, I also have a quite curious nature—I would like to increase my understanding so I can take better actions. I want to proclaim the liberating power, hope and consolation the gospel offers, and how our faith in Christ functions as a guideline for our coexistence as one human family in God’s one creation, today and tomorrow, the new Presiding Bishop of the Bishops’ Conference says.

After 10 years as the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Olav Fykse Tveit returns home. In April, he will be assuming the role of Presiding Bishop of the Bishops’ Conference, following the recent retirement of Helga Haugland Byfuglien.

– Among the most enjoyable aspects of my leader role for the past few years has been my responsibility for listening to many people and trying to incorporate various contributions from all co-workers and teams. I have learned that one ends up needing everything one has learned, and that one should make use of everything one has learned. This entails that one must be open to learning new things, even as a leader, Olav Fykse Tveit says.

Bishops united in their vote for Fykse Tveit. Last October, when the Bishops’ Conference was nominating candidates for the position as Presiding Bishop, they only came up with one name: Olav Fykse Tveit.

Justifying their nomination, the bishops wrote: – Olav Fykse Tveit has extraordinary expertise and experience, making him very well suited for the position as presiding bishop. Through his service, Olav Fykse Tveit has attained a great deal of trust and made significant contributions to church unity and interaction across continents and faiths.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has 350 member churches from 110 countries. These churches represent over 500 million Christians. Fykse Tveit’s decade as leader of the WCC has given him a vast amount of knowledge about church life worldwide.

Fykse Tveit wants a task-oriented church. I have observed many ways of existing as a church and how the church can bear significance for people in different ways. I think this is useful in the Bishops’ Conference’s endeavours to develop and exercise spiritual and pastoral leadership in the church. I believe that my extensive ecumenical and international experience will be valuable as we work to acknowledge and develop the diversity of the Church of Norway, as well as how it relates to the large diversity of Norwegian society, he says.

He wants a church that is task-oriented:

– Our primary cause needs to be those we serve. We must avoid becoming too selfish as institutions, organisations and individuals. Concentrating on the mission is especially challenging now that the Church of Norway is going through major changes. These changes relate to how we manage and govern the church, to the members’ relationship to the church, and to the church’s role in Norwegian society.

Previously, Olav Fykse Tveit has served as parish priest, theological consultant and general secretary of the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations (Mellomkyrkjeleg råd), and more. He is also a Doctor of Theology.

Even after working abroad for 10 years, he is well-oriented about the current state of Norwegian society and church life, and he is very familiar with the question of why the church participates in political debate. Fykse Tveit wants to focus on what is at stake when it comes to shared values and shared responsibility in society.

The church ought to be seen and heard. The “prophetic role” of the church is often discussed in the ecumenical community. In my opinion, it is a matter of being a clear voice, and of being both critical and constructive.

– The church, with its message and as a public actor, contributes to opinion formation and opinion exchange in society. I would like to take on the role as presiding bishop by contributing to the visibility and audibility of the Church of Norway, and by ensuring that the church makes good and objective contributions in the public sphere.

On Sunday, 26 April, during the Bishops’ Conference in Trondheim, there will be a service of consecration in the Nidaros Cathedral. At that time, Olav Fykse Tveit will be ordinated to his new leader position in the Church of Norway.

Olav Fykse Tveit is married with three children and four grandchildren.

Contact: Director of Communications of the Church Council of Norway, Ingeborg Dybvig – tel.: +47 23 08 12 05 / +47 474 81 606 – e-mail:

Learn more about the World Council of Churches

Watch a programme on NRK Urix showing a topical example of the role that the WCC plays in international conversations: The churches’ unknown channel into North Korea (“Kirkenes ukjente kanal til Nord-Korea”) – NRK Urix, 4 January 2020