World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

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Past WCC Assemblies

The Assembly is the "supreme legislative body" of the WCC, and meets every eight years.

1st Assembly, Amsterdam 1948

Place: Amsterdam, The Netherlands 
Dates: 22 August to 4 September 1948 
Theme: Man's Disorder and God's Design
Member churches: 147

It was on the 23rd of August 1948, in Amsterdam, that the World Council of Churches was officially founded. 147 churches from different confessions and many countries came together to commit themselves to the ecumenical movement.

At the assembly in Amsterdam, four sections were organized to examine aspects of the theme  "Man's Disorder and God's Design":

- the universal church in God's design
- the church's witness to God's design
- the church and the disorder of society
- the church and the international disorder

Read the official report of the 1st Assembly

2nd Assembly, Evanston 1954

Place: Evanston, Illinois, USA
Dates: 15-31 August 1954
Theme: Christ - the Hope of the World
Member churches: 161

The only WCC assembly to date held in the United States, it to some degree reflected - and certainly reflected on - the East-West tensions of the cold war. The Assembly divided its work into six sections:

- Our oneness in Christ and our disunity as churches
- The mission of the church to those outside her life
- The responsible society in a world perspective
- Christians in the struggle for world community
- The churches amid racial and ethnic tension
- The laity: the Christian in his vocation

Read the official report of the 2nd Assembly

3rd Assembly, New Delhi 1961

Place: New Delhi, India 
Dates: 19 November to 5 December 1961 
Theme: Jesus Christ - the Light of the World
Member churches: 197

Best remembered for the incorporation of the International Missionary Council into the WCC, and the admission of 23 new member churches, including significant sectors of Eastern Orthodoxy and churches from newly independent nations, the Assembly focused on the theme "Jesus Christ - the Light of the World" with three sections on witness, service and unity.

Read the official report of the 3rd Assembly

4th Assembly, Uppsala 1968

Place: Uppsala, Sweden
Dates: 4-20 July 1968 
Theme: Behold, I make all things new
Member churches: 235 

The assembly at Uppsala bore further testimony to the expanding membership of the Council, as well as the fresh breezes of Vatican II that brought Catholic observers to participate in the meeting and discuss further opportunities for cooperation. Sections were organized under the headings:

- The Holy Spirit and the catholicity of the church
- Renewal in mission
- World economic and social development
- Towards justice and peace in international affairs
- Worship
- Towards new styles of living

Read the official report of the 4th Assembly

5th Assembly, Nairobi 1975

Place: Nairobi, Kenya 
Dates: 23 November to 10 December 1975 
Theme: Jesus Christ Frees and Unites
Member churches: 285

"Jesus Christ frees and unites" the delegates sang in the midst of Nairobi's life:

people from around the earth, standing before God in their captivities and disunities and naming a divine possibility.
The assembly section titles echo concerns of that turbulent decade:

- Confessing Christ today
- What unity requires
- Seeking community
- Education for liberation and community
- Structures of injustice and struggles for liberation
- Human development

Read the official report of the 5th Assembly

6th Assembly, Vancouver 1983

Place: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Dates: 24 July to 10 August 1983 
Theme: Jesus Christ - the Life of the World
Member churches: 301 

At this assembly on the western shores of Canada, a renewed emphasis on common worship was experienced under the great white tent standing beneath the summer sun. Hope for closer fellowship arose from dialogue on the Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (BEM) document, and such ecumenical experiments as the Lima Liturgy. At the same time, the nuclear threat and neo-colonialism glowered like dark clouds on the horizon. The Assembly proclaimed its theme: "Jesus Christ - the Life of the World", and carried out its work in the following issue groups:

- Witnessing in a divided world
- Taking steps towards unity
- Moving towards participation
- Healing and sharing life in community
- Confronting threats to peace and survival
- Struggling for justice and human dignity
- Learning in community
- Communicating credibly

Read the official report of the 6th Assembly

7th Assembly, Canberra 1991

Place: Canberra, Australia 
Dates: 7-20 February 1991
Theme: Come, Holy Spirit - Renew the Whole Creation
Member churches: 317 

1991 was the first time a theme had explicitly invoked the third person of the Trinity, and it did so in the context of the physical universe. Sections were organized under four sub-themes:

- "Giver of life - sustain your creation!"
- "Spirit of truth - set us free!"
- "Spirit of unity - reconcile your people!"
- "Holy Spirit - transform and sanctify us!"

Read the official report of the 7th Assembly

8th Assembly, Harare 1998

Place: Harare, Zimbabwe 
Dates: 3-14 December 1998 
Theme: Turn to God - Rejoice in Hope
Member churches: 339 

Half a century after the official foundation of the WCC, its member churches renewed their commitment to stay together, and delegates promised to remain in solidarity with their African hosts.

The Assembly decided to set up a commission on the participation of the Orthodox churches in the WCC. It backed the creation of a "Forum of Christian Churches and Ecumenical Organizations" which could extend the ecumenical outreach far beyond WCC member churches.

Delegates and assembly visitors participated in more than 600 contributions to a three-day "Padare" in which subjects ranged from Evangelical-Orthodox dialogue to human sexuality. It was preceded by a Decade Festival of churches in solidarity with women.

Read the official report of the 8th Assembly

Learn more about the 8th Assembly

9th Assembly, Porto Alegre 2006

Place: Porto Alegre, Brazil
Dates: 14-23 February 2006
Theme: God in your grace, transform the world
Member churches: 348 

The 2006 assembly was one of the most representative gatherings of Christians ever held - with over 4,000 participants from ecumenical organizations and groups, delegates from 348 member churches, observers and visitors from all around the world.

Addressing the core issues of Christian unity, the Assembly agreed on a new text, "Called to be the One Church," and urged that WCC and its member churches give priority to the questions of unity, catholicity, baptism and prayer. Other key issues discussed at plenary sessions were Economic justice, Christian identity and religious plurality, and Youth overcoming violence.

Also, delegates adopted a substantially revised Constitution and Rules which moved the WCC to decision-making based on consensus and which amended membership criteria. Steps were taken to strengthen active involvement of youth (under 30 years) in the life and work of the Council.

Read the official report of the 9th Assembly

Visit the 9th Assembly website

10th Assembly, Busan 2013

Place: Busan, Republic of Korea
Dates: 30 October - 8 November 2013
Theme: God of life, lead us to justice and peace
Member churches: 345

In the message of the WCC 10th Assembly, participants offered this affirmation:

“We share our experience of the search for unity in Korea as a sign of hope in the world. This is not the only land where people live divided, in poverty and richness, happiness and violence, welfare and war. We are not allowed to close our eyes to harsh realities or to rest our hands from God’s transforming work. As a fellowship, the World Council of Churches stands in solidarity with the people and the churches in the Korean peninsula, and with all who strive for justice and peace.”

Read the official report of the 10th Assembly

Visit the 10th Assembly website