As a newly elected WCC central committee member, Rev. Rita Famos pledges to continue the long ecumenical tradition of the Protestant Church in Switzerland.


”I had discovered the Bible, already in confirmation class, and begun to understand what it means to be a Christian witness,” she explains.

Four decades later, she attended the WCC central committee meeting Geneva as a newly appointed member, representing the Protestant Church in Switzerland. She succeeds Rev. Serge Fornerod, who is retiring.

The seeds sown in her teenage years have been carefully nurtured and fertilized, ever since. 

Curious and eager to learn more, she eventually enrolled at the University of Bern to pursue a degree in theology. Her programme also included studies at the University of Halle, East Germany (DDR), during a time when the opposition within the church against the oppressive DDR-regime grew stronger and stronger. That made a lasting impression on her.

”The church in DDR made a real difference in the process leading up to the fall of the regime in 1989. It was an expression of faith, hope and courage,” she explains.   

Ordained in 1992, Famos embarked on an eight-year journey as a pastor in congregations in Uster and Zürich-Enge.

”Initially, I had no clerical ambitions but after having been offered an opportunity to follow a pastor on a daily basis at work in a rural congregation during my student years, I became convinced that this was what I wanted to do. I followed my heart,” she confesses.

Thirty years later, she is the president of the Protestant Church in Switzerland, which has long ecumenical traditions, and a newly elected WCC central committee member. As such, she continues to advocate for a clear and challenging discussion with the Russian Orthodox Church to stop justifying the war in Ukraine. She also expresses grave concern for the fate of Russian Orthodox Church pastors, who have dared to oppose the official position of their employer.

”There is no theological argument for this brutal war and we must continue to profoundly condemn it,” she says.

Hoping and praying that the ongoing dialogue between the WCC and the Russian Orthodox Church will be effective, the demands from member churches of the Protestant Church in Switzerland to suspend the Russian Orthodox Church have been put on hold.

”We are closely following events and stand united behind all good efforts that support resistance to the destructive forces behind this war,” Famos continues.

Driven by faith, commitment, and curiosity, she has always been prepared to take on new challenges and never been afraid to stand up for what is right.

Over the years, she has been entrusted with increasingly higher positions and a growing number of staff to lead. She has also been deeply engaged in church politics as a member of the synod in Kanton Zürich, where she and husband Cla have lived since the 1990s and where they have raised their two children.

”Advancing ecumenism has always been a priority for the Protestant Church in Switzerland, and its 25 member churches.

It is something we are very proud of and which we have put a lot of energy and human resources into, over the years. I am determined to continue that tradition,” Famos says.

What concerns her the most in todays secularized society is the transition towards an individualistic and self-focused culture, where it has become increasingly difficult to communicate the value of faith, of togetherness, and of being a member of a church.

”Who takes responsibility and holds societies together in an environment, where individualism has become the norm?” she asks.

The church has an important role to play.

WCC central committee welcomed by local Swiss churches (WCC news release, 24 June 2023)