Ecumenical bodies related to the WCC
Various types of organizations formed by churches play a vital part in the life of the ecumenical movement as a whole.
Some are organized (regional ecumenical organizations and other regional and sub-regional fellowships). Others are international groupings of churches within a single (Christian World Communions). And some are world ecumenical organizations focusing on a . or a
The first Regional Ecumenical Organization (REO) was the East Asia Christian Conference (now called the Christian Conference of Asia) which was founded in 1957. Over the next 25 years, six more REOs were founded in all world regions except North America, each with its own history, programme, membership criteria and style of working.
Their principal aims include helping their members to shape a common Christian response to issues of regional concern, and serving as a bridge between churches and national councils in the region and worldwide organizations.
As "essential partners in the ecumenical enterprise" (WCC rules, XV.1.), REOs may send representatives to the WCC assembly and to meetings of its central committee.
The WCC cooperates with several other regional and sub-regional organizations and groupings of churches and/or national councils of churches, which, in some regions, have become an important part of the ecumenical scene. They help groups of churches linked by historic and cultural factors to express their distinctive identity and witness within the larger regional framework.
Christian World Communions (CWCs) is the term commonly used to describe churches organized at the global level, or families of churches with common theological and historical roots, confessions or structure.
Such international church groupings have existed since the middle of the 19th century and their heads have met annually since 1957.
The WCC Central Committee may invite CWCs to send delegated representatives to the assembly or an adviser to meetings of the central committee.
The roles played by CWCs within the global ecumenical movement include: 1. fostering unity amongst their own community and working to prevent further divisions; 2. promoting ecumenism amongst their own communion; 3. providing an entry point into the ecumenical movement.
The constitutional documents of the WCC recognize that the Council must maintain working relationships with a wide variety of international ecumenical organizations, some of which are older than the WCC itself.
These include organizations representing particular constituencies - such as youth, students, women, lay people - and bodies and agencies with a particular functional purpose or ministry in such fields as education, communication, resource-sharing and development.
As organizations with an international scope and mandate, most of them understand themselves as carrying out a specialized ministry in response to the same ecumenical calling as the member churches of the WCC.
Since 2006, both specialized ministries and agencies engaged in ecumenical diaconal services and other international ecumenical organizations may apply for formal recognition by the WCC according to the revised rule XVIII. Thus recognized, they are invited to send a delegated representative to the assembly.
Specialized Ministries (Ecumenical agencies)
Specialized ministries are specialized diaconal/sectoral ministries (or departments) within WCC member churches, organizations, churches and church-related organizations, or mission organizations, working in the area of development, relief, mission and advocacy.
The specialized ministries take part in the round table convened by the WCC for sharing areas of common interest, views and strategies in order to build synergies and common action.