A vision unites the streams

In 1948, the World Council of Churches was solemnly founded "in order to render clearer witness together to the Lord who came to serve all." This is how Willem Visser 't Hooft, the WCC's first general secretary, described the Council's vision. This vision of unity helped bring together pre-exisiting ecumenical streams that promoted common witness in areas of theology, Christian service, mission and education.

See pictures from the first two decades of common witness in the WCC



Promoting unity in a divided world

In a world polarized by the cold war, racial and economic injustices and struggles for liberation, the WCC's efforts to make a difference sparked controversy; for example, conflict over the Programme to Combat Racism drew much attention to the Council. Significant achievements in Christian dialogue, such as the theological convergence on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, were reached in this same period.

See pictures from the second two decades of common witness in the WCC



Signs of hope amidst continuing challenges

"Come Holy Spirit - Renew the Whole Creation" was the theme of the 7th assembly of the WCC. Held at Canberra, Australia in 1991, this assembly took place at a time of long-awaited changes, like the fall of the apartheid regime in South Africa and the re-entry of the Chinese church into the WCC. It was also a time of growing awareness of challenges such as the care for creation and the building of peace even as war raged in the region surrounding the Persian Gulf.

See pictures from the two most recent decades



Faces that tell a story

The richness of the ecumenical movement may be seen in faces of men and women all over the earth who dedicate themselves to the common vision. Meet a few sailors who have journeyed aboard the WCC's "ecumenical ship" during its 60-year voyage toward Christian unity.

See the pictures




The whole inhabited earth

In the time of Jesus, the Greek word oikoumene was used to signify "the whole inhabited earth". The ecumenical movement today brings together Christians of different traditions from all parts of the world. The World Council of Churches is an expression of their common witness at the global level. It has also encouraged the creation of forums in which churches can meet on national or regional levels.

See how ecumenism is lived out in different parts of the world