After the war, the Council encouraged churches' development ministries and continues this work among refugees, migrants and the poor. During the cold war, the WCC provided a forum for East-West dialogue. In 1961 the IMC was merged with the WCC, giving the Council an enlarged agenda in world mission and evangelism. The Programme to Combat Racism, although controversial, assisted in ending apartheid in southern Africa. A landmark document, Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry (1982) provided some theological consensus among churches in the quest for full Christian unity.
When the WCC came into being at the First Assembly in 1948, there were 147 member churches. At the end of 2013, the membership stood at 345 churches. Predominately Protestant and Western in its earliest years, the WCC's profile and identity evolved during the 1960s with the influx of many Orthodox churches from the East and newly autonomous churches from formerly colonial regions in the South. The Second Vatican Council greatly improved relations between the WCC and Roman Catholics.
The WCC holds its assemblies every six to eight years. The First Assembly took place at Amsterdam, Netherlands, in 1948, and the 10th Assembly was convened at Busan, Republic of Korea, in 2013.
Click here for a list of WCC assemblies since 1948, their themes and key aspects.
Click here for a list of WCC general secretaries since 1948.