World Council of Churches

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Ecumenical vision of the WCC

This project interprets and communicates a vision, embodied in the WCC's 1998 policy statement "Towards a common understanding and vision of the WCC", that seeks both to broaden the ecumenical movement and to serve it.
Interpretation of the ecumenical vision of the WCC

With this project, the WCC invites churches to continue their reflection on the future of ecumenism as well as on their own ecumenical engagement. It builds on a major 1990s study on the "Common understanding and vision of the WCC (CUV)" which revealed that while the ecumenical movement is wider than the WCC's organizational expressions, the council serves as a prominent instrument and expression of this movement.

Stimulated by the CUV study and document, reflection on ecumenism has pursued various avenues over the past decade. For example, a Special Commission examined Orthodox participation in the WCC; a change from parliamentary to consensus decision-making procedures was one direct outcome of this four-year effort, that ended in 2002.

Pursuing another avenue of reflection, two conferences on "Ecumenism in the 21st century" looked at the "reconfiguration" of the ecumenical movement. Between 2007 and 2012, a "Continuation Committee on Ecumenism in the 21st century" analyzed contemporary and institutional challenges. It prepared recommendations to the WCC, regional ecumenical organizations, national councils of churches, Christian world communions, ecumenical youth movements, specialized ministries, renewal movements, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and churches and organizations – whether or not traditionally seen as ecumenically engaged – on how to live out the gift of ecumenical calling in more intentional cooperation by all. The final report of the committee was received by the WCC Central Committee in September 2012 and will be forwarded to the WCC 10th Assembly in 2013.

The creation of a Global Christian Forum was yet another effort to stimulate thinking about the reconfiguration of the ecumenical movement. It created an open space where representatives from a broad range of Christian churches and inter-church organizations could explore common challenges. The CUV document itself continues to provide resources for the ongoing development of ecumenism. For example, the WCC claims to be a "fellowship of churches", but this is sometimes challenged from a spiritual perspective. "Praying together" has become an ecclesiological and spiritual challenge, and the CUV has much to say on this subject.

This project - interpretation of the ecumenical vision of the WCC - involves communication, ecumenical formation and study. It works through ecumenical officers, youth, member churches and other ecumenical bodies to promote common reflection on developments in the ecumenical movement.

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Related Documents

Final Report of the Continuation Committee on Ecumenism in the 21st Century

The final report of the committee included recommendations to the WCC, regional ecumenical organizations, national councils of churches, Christian world communions, ecumenical youth movements, specialized ministries, renewal movements, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and churches and organizations – whether or not traditionally seen as ecumenically engaged – on how to live out the gift of ecumenical calling in more intentional cooperation by all. It was received by the WCC Central Committee in September 2012 and will be forwarded to the WCC 10th Assembly in 2013.