World Council of Churches

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

You are here: Home / About us / Self understanding & vision / CUV / The WCC as a fellowship of churches

The WCC as a fellowship of churches

The WCC as a fellowship of churches

Collage from the exhibition "Staying together" designed by Sergio Centano for the 50th anniversary of the WCC.

The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which have committed themselves to make visible their unity in Christ and to call one another to a deeper expression of that unity through worship and common life, witness and service to the world.

The constitutional basis of the World Council of Churches says that the WCC is a "fellowship of churches".

The word "fellowship" is a reminder that the WCC is not a body which acts separately from the churches. Nor is it a merely functional association set up to organize common activities. In identifying themselves with the fellowship of the World Council, churches are acknowledging that the membership of the church of Christ is wider and more inclusive than the membership of their own church.

Their quest for visible Christian unity is not a search for uniformity. The churches' fellowship in the WCC is not intended to create some kind of "super-church" into which all churches would dissolve and lose their identity. Quite the contrary. The very diversity of the member churches enriches their fellowship in the Council. They come from all parts of the world. Their members speak many different languages. How they worship God and teach the Christian faith varies according to their historic traditions and their contemporary contexts.

All these churches - in the words of the WCC basis - "confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures". They seek fellowship with one another because, as the first assembly of the WCC said in 1948, "Christ has made us his own, and Christ is not divided".

This fellowship is not an end in itself. It exists in order to point to God's mission and activity in the world. The fellowship the churches have found in the World Council of Churches is not yet complete. But the WCC provides a space where they can explore what it means to be in fellowship towards greater unity and can challenge one another to manifest that unity more deeply.

Churches which participate in the Council open themselves to such challenges. They acknowledge that they are accountable to one another.