Honoree Selection Criteria
List of Honorees:
Alleyne, Justice Sir Brian
Bowers, Bishop Joseph
Charles, PM Eugenia
Felix, Archbishop Kelvin
Georges, Justice Telford
Green-Wills, Dr. Dorothy
Imray, Dr. John
LeBlanc, Premier Edward
Loblack, Honorable E. C.
Philip, Commissioner Oliver
Potter, Reverend Dr. Philip
Rawle, Honorable Cecil
Riviere, Raglan Eugene
Shillingford, Agatha Allport
Shillingford, Albert Cavendish
Shillingford, Dr. Clayton
Shillingford, Hon. Howell
Sorhaindo, Dr. Bernard
THE REVEREND DR. PHILIP ALFORD POTTER - "The Protestant Pope"
The world renowned Reverend Dr Philip Alford Potter is arguably the most famous Dominican, and one of the most distinguished West Indians. He is one of only a handful of people ever to have as profound an influence on the course of modern world history. He has been described as a “giant of the ecumenical movement.”
Born in Roseau, Dominica, on August 19, 1921, into the prominent Potter family, young Philip won a government scholarship to the Dominica Grammar School. On graduation, he worked at the Attorney General’s office. In 1943 he left Dominica to begin his theological education at the Methodist Theological Seminary in Jamaica. There he married his first wife, Doreen Cousins. At the Seminary, he was selected to represent the Jamaica Student Christian Movement at the 1947 World Conference on Christian Youth in Oslo, Norway. In 1948 and 1954, he served as a spokesperson for youth at the assemblies of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
Philip Potter was an excellent student, and, after three years at Seminary in Jamaica, he was sent to complete his divinity studies at London’s Richmond College. On ordination, Potter was posted to Nevis, then to Haiti, where he would remain for four years. Later, he would credit his Haiti experience for giving him a profound understanding of the needs of the poor, who he would champion throughout his life. Ultimately he became head of the WCC, and one of the most prominent and respected world leaders. This position he held from 1972-1984.
The WCC represents over 350 Protestant, Methodist, Anglican and Orthodox Catholic Churches, with over half a billion adherents worldwide; and at one time was considered the most influential Christian body outside the Roman Catholic Church. Much of the WCC ’s prestige has been credited to Reverend Potter when he served as its Secretary General. According to Dr. Samuel Kobia, who replaced Potter at the WCC, great strides were taken by the WCC under Philip Potter's leadership. Among the most memorable were the development of the theological consensus document, the campaign against apartheid in South Africa, a vigorous debate on the nature of post-colonial Christian mission, a co-ordinated witness for peace amid East-West tensions and the threat of nuclear annihilation, as well as an exploration of new forms of spirituality, worship and music. For his profound ecumenical leadership of the world’s Protestant churches, Reverend Potter was on occasion referred to as the Protestant Pope.
Among his numerous awards are honorary doctorates from several Universities including Hamburg, Berlin, Geneva, Vienna, Birmingham and UWI. He received the Oliver Tambo Award from South Africa and the Dominica Medal of Honor, the highest civilian awards in both countries. In Geneva, The Library of the Ecumenical Centre was renamed The Philip A. Potter Library in his honor.
Despite his weighty responsibilities, Rev. Potter is quite a jovial man, with a quick wit and ready humor. He retired in 1984 and currently resides in Germany with his wife, retired Lutheran bishop Bärbel Wartenberg-Potter, who at one time headed the Lutheran Church in Germany.
For his profound ecumenical leadership of world Protestantism, his brilliant scholarship, and his steadfast championing of the world’s poor and oppressed, DAAS honors the Reverend Dr. Philip Alford Potter.
Compiled from articles by:
Thomson Fontaine and Hubert Charles
Thomson Fontaine: The Rev. Philip Potter - A World Icon
Hubert Charles: A Biographical Note on the Rev. Philip Alford Potter
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