The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfill together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (constit., rev. 1961). The WCC had its origins in the Faith and Order and the Life and Work movements (see Ecumenical Movement, 710; Union Movements, 14, 15). These 2 movements converged 1937 when delegates from the majority of Prot. chs. met at Edinburgh and Oxford to discuss the possibilities of ch. union. The delegation at Edinburgh concerned itself primarily with Faith and Order, while the topic for discussion at Oxford was chiefly Life and Work. The two groups agreed to appoint continuation committees which were to lay the foundation for the proposed WCC and to prepare a draft for a coast. Specific steps leading to the formation of the WCC were the 1937 meeting of the Committee of 35 under W. Temple's* chairmanship at Westfield, Onson, Eng., and the 1938 meeting of the Committee of 14 at Utrecht, Neth. The organizational meeting was scheduled for 1941 but had to be postponed until 1948 at Amsterdam. At New Delhi 1961 the International* Missionary Council merged with the WCC. Other assemblies: Evanston, Illinois, 1954; Uppsala, Swed., 1968; Nairobi, Kenya, 1976; Vancouver, Brit. Columbia, Can., 1983. The const. lists the following functions of the WCC:
1. To carry on the work of the world movements for Faith and Order and Life and Work and of the International Missionary Council;
2. To facilitate common action by the churches;
3. To promote cooperation in study;
4. To promote the growth of ecumenical and missionary consciousness in the members of all churches;
5. To support the churches in their worldwide missionary and evangelistic task;
6. To establish and maintain relations with national and regional councils, world confessional bodies, and other ecumenical organizations;
7. To call world conferences on specific subjects as occasion may require, such conferences being empowered to publish their own findings.
The work of the WCC is carried on by 3 commissions: The Commission on Faith and Order, continuing the work of the Faith and Order movement (see Ecumenical Movement, 7, 8, 10, 11); the Commission of the Chs. on Internat. Affairs, developed from the Life and Work movement (see Ecumenical Movement, 911); the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, developed from the Internat.. Missionary Council (see Ecumenical Movement, 6, 11).
G. K. A. Ball, The Kingship of Christ: The Story of the World Council of Churches (Baltimore, 1954): P. Gaines, The World Council of Churches: A Study of Its Background and History (Peter-borough, New Hampshire, 1966): G. A. Thiele, The World Council of Churches, CTM XXVII (May 1956), 532369; R. Krieling, Uppsala 1968 (Göttingen, 1968)
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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