Celebratory event will discuss Black leaders’ contributions in WCC’s history

A public online celebration and panel discussion on 31 August, They too were Gathered: Paying homage to Black peoples contributions to 75 years of World Council of Churches (WCC),” will uncover the contributions of Black people from different parts of the world in the formation and growth of the WCC.


In January 1979, the WCC Central Committee met in Kingston, Jamaica. Major items discussed involved the Council’s involvement on issues such as militarism and disarmament, the struggle against racism and the issue of Hope and Unity. This picture shows (left) Bishop Desmond Tutu, general secretary of the South African Council of Churches, in conversation with Dr Philip Potter, WCC general secretary. Photo: WCC

As the WCC celebrates its 75th anniversary, one question and observation demands an answer: what has been the contribution of Black people to the rise and continued existence, even thriving of the WCC? Due to the influence and persistence of colonial ideology and culture, part of the history of the WCC has not escaped from the whitewashing of positive contributions with blackness reduced in visibility and significance. Among the questions that will guide the conversation and celebration are “What was the contribution of Black people to the formation and launch of the WCC and who were some of the leading individuals?” and “Who have been some of the Black stalwarts of the WCC from 1948 to the present?” The event will aim to recover the legacy of Black contributions and to reimagine future Black contributions to the health and wellbeing of the WCC.