Ralph C. Young, former Geneva Secretary for the World Methodist Council, died on the 26th of November in Geneva, Switzerland, at the age of 100. Young was a Canadian and an ecumenist, the son of a Methodist minister. When Methodists joined the Uniting Church of Canada (UCC), Young became involved in youth and student ecumenical work. He worked for the Maritime Religious Education Council and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), and later became secretary of the UCC’s Board of Men.
Feeling the call to serve, Ralph Young began working for the World Council of Churches in 1961 as executive secretary of their department of the laity, and was co-editor of the periodical “Laity.” During a re-structuring of the WCC in 1971, with the integration of the World Council of Christian Education, the Laity department was absorbed in the Sub-unit on Renewal and Congregational Life. In 1980, Young retired from the WCC.
In 1983, Young accepted the Geneva Secretary position with the World Methodist Council, a position which expanded the Council’s presence in the world and fostered ecumenical ties forming the basis of future dialogues. He served in that position until 2001.
Prof. Robert Gribben, chair of the WMC Ecumenical Relationships Committee, got to know Ralph Young well during his tenure as Geneva Secretary and stated, “Ralph was always a gracious host to Methodist leaders and groups passing through Geneva, offering a cup of tea and a conversation in his small office, and a tour of ‘the House’, the headquarters of the World Council of Churches. He kept the World Methodist Council leadership well informed on ecumenical issues arising in Geneva. We honour him for his work and his hospitality.”
Ralph Young’s funeral was held on 2 December at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Geneva.