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Feb 21 (1991) - World Council Of Churches Finishes 7th Assembly In Canberra

By TJB · Feb 21, 2021 ·
Marking today's anniversary we look at the World Council of Churches representing 500million Christians worldwide, how were they founded? Who is involved? Who isn't a full member? What have they achieved? Where they infiltrated by the KGB?
  1. wcc.jpg

    The World Council of Churches (or WCC) was inaugurated in 1948, as the world was emerging from the destruction of another world war, the policy of this inter-church organization is to work for the cause of ecumenism, that is Christian Unity and cooperation amongst denominations. Its foundational statement istates that TheWCC is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures, and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Comprising of 350 churches from more than 110 countries, representing over 500 million Christians worldwide. Its full members today, include Eastern and Orthodox churches, the Anglican Communion, and many reformed churches including Lutheran, Baptist and Pentecostal churches. Notably, the Catholic Church is not a full member, although it sends delegates to meetings. There are many regional affiliates of the WCC, such as the Middle East Council of Churches and National Council of Churches in Australia, who work for Christian unity at the domestic level.

    The 7th Assembly in Canberra that finished today was attended by almost 900 delegates and had was titled “Come, Holy Spirit – Renew the Whole Creation’ , and the coincided with the start of the second Gulf War,.” a particular urgency. Also hanging over the meeting was criticism of the Councils failure to recognize persecuted East European Christians at the previous General Assembly in Vancouver in 1983. Two of the key speeches in Canberra had given an insight into the tensions that bringing together ancient and modern churches inevitably bring. The Orthodox Patriarch from Alexandria spoke on the wealth of the Holy Spirit’s teaching, and a Korean theology professor spoke on the Holy Spirit in the context of the political, ecological and social challenges, introduced by an impressive folklore dance performance. There is a wisdom in living with these tensions instead of trying to resolve them, but the tensions remained and on the last sitting of the assembly, the Orthodox Churches submitted a memorandum detailing their long-standing unease regarding procedures and theological developments within the WCC. This was accepted and set aside for further consideration.

    The historical roots of the WCC are found in student and lay movements of the 19th century, the 1910 Edinburgh world missionary conference, and a 1920 encyclical from the (Orthodox) Synod of Constantinople suggesting a "fellowship of churches" similar to the League of Nations. This coming together and realising that shared convictions on faith and life was an enriching experience started to bear some fruit. Theologians from different traditions working together produced a statement on baptism, eucharist and ministry that has led to new worship patterns within churches, and to a greater understanding between churches of different confessional traditions. During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, promoted by the Council, Different denominations are encouraged into joint prayer. The good will and openness of the WCC can be exploited cynically. The Mitrokhin Archive, a collection of handwritten notes by KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin brought into the UK after his defection in 1992 reveals in detail the depth of the penetration and influence wielded by the KGB over the WCC. In 1998 the 8th assembly in Harare set up A Special Commission to address Orthodox concerns about WCC membership and the Council's decision-making style. It proposed clarification that inter-confessional prayer at WCC events is not worship, particularly "it should avoid giving the impression of being the worship of a church"

    The Catholic Church has grown closer to the council since its members were barred from attending the first assembly, in a dramatic shift in its attitude to ecumenism, Pope John XXIII developed the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. 1961 saw Catholic members attend the Delhi conference of the WCC, and the Pope invited non-Catholics to attend the Vatican II Council. Twelve Catholic theologians have been members of the WCC's Faith and Order Commission since 1968. At the other end of the spectrum many churches who refused to join the WCC joined together to form the World Evangelical Alliance.

    To listen to the pod please click on https://www.pogp.net/post/jan-21-world-council-of-churches

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