The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






World Council of Churches

The World Council of Churches (or WCC) is the principal international Christian ecumenical organization. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, it has a membership of 342 churches.

After the initial successes of the Ecumenical Movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, church leaders (in 1937) agreed to establish a World Council of Churches, based on a merger of earlier organizations. Its official organization was deferred by the outbreak of World War II until August 23, 1948, when representatives of 147 churches assembled in Amsterdam to merge the Faith and Order and Life and Work movements in the new WCC. In 1961, the International Missionary Council was merged with the WCC.

WCC member churches today include nearly all the world's Orthodox churches; numerous Protestant churches such as Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, and Reformed; the Anglican Communion; and a broad representation of united and independent churches. The largest Christian body, the Roman Catholic Church, is not a member of the WCC, but has worked closely with the Council for more than three decades and sends observers to all major WCC conferences as well as to its Central Committee meetings and the Assemblies. The Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity also nominates 12 members to the WCC's Commission on Faith and Order as full members.

Representatives of the member churches meet every seven years in an Assembly, which elects a Central Committee that governs between Assemblies. A variety of other committees and commissions answer to the Central Committee and its staff.

The WCC acts both through its member churches and other religious and social organizations to coordinate ecumenical, evangelical, and social action. The WCC is particularly known for its Programme to Combat Racism that coordinated church response to apartheid in South Africa. Current WCC programmes include a Decade to Overcome Violence and an international campaign to combat AIDS/HIV in Africa. In doctrinal matters, the WCC's Commission on Faith and Order has been successful in developing consensus agreements on Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry, on the date of Easter, on the nature and purpose of the church, and on ecumenical hermeneutics.

The current General Secretary of the WCC is Samuel Kobia

External links

  • Official website

Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55