The World Council of Churches (WCC) has welcomed three new member churches to the ecumenical fellowship and also admitted two others to interim membership status.
The action, taken by the WCC Central Committee at its June 20-28 meeting in Trondheim, Norway, expands the number of member churches to 348.
Said Central Committee moderator Dr Agnes Abuom, “We are delighted to welcome these churches to the ecumenical fellowship. And it is a special joy to welcome back to the fellowship the Dutch Reformed Church, one of our founding member churches and now, a generation after the end of Apartheid, a partner in building a future of justice for all peoples.”
The three new member churches are:
The Dutch Reformed Church, (DRC), founded in the 17th century by Dutch settlers in southern Africa, includes more than one million members and three theological faculties. A founding member of WCC, the DRC broke its relationship with WCC in the 1960s, due to harsh criticism from the ecumenical fellowship on the DRC’s involvement in and support of apartheid. Beginning in 1986, the DRC rejected all forms of racism and opened its membership to all believers. DRC was readmitted in the confessional family of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in 1998 and became, for the first time, a member of the All Africa Conference of Churches in 2012, as well as a member of the South African Council of Churches.
Blantyre Synod is the component part of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) for the southern region of Malawi.The CCAP Blantyre Synod was established in the 19th century by Scottish missionaries and includes 1.8 million members in 800 local congregations.
The Council of Baptist Churches in North East India (CBCNEI) is one of the largest Baptist groups in India, including 1.2 million members in 7263 congregations. The American Baptist Missionaries initiated the mission in 1836. Today CBCNEI has six regional conventions as participating bodies in North Eastern states.
Along with the new member churches, two other churches entered the interim period designated for churches that have been accepted into WCC membership:
The Africa Brotherhood Church, from Kenya, was founded in 1945 by several brotherhoods that had received the Gospel from Africa Inland Mission (AIM), Salvation Army or Catholic missions. They wanted to focus on education and enculturation of Christianity. The ABC currently has 159,193 members in 916 local congregations in East and Central Africa.
The Community of Baptist Churches in Central Africa (CBCA) is from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Founded in 1927 by an American missionary society named Unevangelized Africa Mission, it became independent in 1964. Present in the eastern part of the DRC, the CBCA currently has over 500,000 members in 418 recognized congregations and 300 outposts. CBCA owns thousands of church schools, church health facilities and a university.