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

The day also coincides with the United Nations International Day for People of African Descent, which the WCC has faithfully marked in the past, including its special mention in the opening ceremony of the WCC 11th Assembly.

While the participation of white Europeans and possibly North Americans has never been questioned in the history of the formation of the WCC, questions have been asked as to the role played by Black people, as well as people from Africa or in the diaspora in the history of the WCC.

In 1948, the WCC was already acknowledging that there was a race problem” in the world, including in churches in which the white supremacist ideology was impacting the Christian ideals of a healthy community. The WCCs commitment to the humanity, dignity, and rights of Black people was further highlighted and strengthened in the launch of the Programme to Combat Racism in 1969 following the WCC 4th Assembly of 1968.

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.

Registration is available here