The World Council of Churches (WCC) continues to receive messages of thanksgiving and encouragement from member churches, sister organizations and the wider ecumenical movement as the fellowship marks 70 years in working for Christian unity and action.
Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, president of the Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, writes a greeting on behalf of one of the founding members of the WCC. “The global fellowship of the WCC has assisted us in extending our mission and deepening our relationships and partnerships for holistic ministry,” Jackson writes. “Over the course of these 70 years, AMEs have been enriched by the fellowship.”
Peace activist and Nobel Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel sends word from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to the WCC for “70 years of opening up faith-based places for meeting, communication and strengthening, on the path that we must find today in a world filled with violence and conflict.” He says: “The World Council of Churches has always made great contributions to the struggle for human rights and to solidarity-driven efforts.”
Estela Barnes de Carlotto, president of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo of Argentina, sends affection and best wishes to the WCC. “I have known this organization for a very long time: we have spent 40 years fighting together, and they were the first to assist, protect, advise and host us,” she says. “I send warmest wishes and heartfelt thanks from all of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the grandchildren whom we have found again, thanks to you, to your assistance, protection and understanding; these young people who today know who they are and have recovered their identity.”
Petra Bosse-Huber, bishop for ecumenical relations of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), wishes the WCC a happy birthday. “We are very grateful that the WCC was such a strong and ecumenical partner for the EKD for such a long time,” she says. “Now we are proud that 2021, the next assembly will be in Germany.”
Rev. Arturo Carrasco Gomez, coordinator general of Iglesias por la Paz, congratulates the WCC on its 70th anniversary, and commends WCC’s expressions of love to neighbors through dignity for all human beings.
“We pray that the work of the World Council of Churches will continue to bear fruit in abundance for the honor and glory of God, peace with justice, and future projects that contribute to peace,” he writes.
Dame Mary Tanner, a lay theologian from the Church of England who served as WCC president for Europe, sends her expression of gratitude for the founding of the WCC and all that it has achieved over the past 70 years. “The work of the World Council towards reconciliation among churches and among the human community has been amazing and I add my tribute to the many that have been expressed this anniversary year,” she writes. “Our world with all its violence, tensions, and brokenness more than ever needs the work and vision of the World Council.”
Rev. Nadim Nassar, founder and executive director of the Awareness Foundation, offers the WCC his warmest congratulations. Nassar, who received a scholarship from the WCC in the 1990s to pursue theological studies, went on to become the only Syrian priest in the Church of England. He then founded the Awareness Foundation, an ecumenical charity that promotes peace and reconciliation in the West and the Middle East through education and dialogue. “I hope and pray that the World Council of Churches continues its mission in spreading the culture of peace and life in our fragile world, which is in desperate need of peacemakers,” he writes.
Brother Alois, prior of the Taizé Community, notes that both the WCC and Taizé emerged following the Second World War, driven by their founders’ vision for peace and Christian unity. “In their wake we try to keep alive this flame of unity. Let us continue our common journey!”
Membership in the WCC is a blessing, encouragement and strength for the Church of North India (CNI), says Alwan Masih, CNI Synod general secretary. “We pray for strengthened mission partnership ahead so that we all could together carry forward the mission of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ that He has shouldered us with.”
Patriarch Kirill, primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, sends cordial congratulations. “For the years of its work, the World Council of Churches has done much to develop inter-confessional dialogue, to promote justice in society and peace among nations,” he writes in a letter.
Rev. Jordan Cantwell, moderator of the United Church of Canada, says she is grateful that the United Church of Canada has been a member of WCC from the founding of WCC in 1948. “As a united church rooted in ecumenical vision, we have been both encouraged and challenged by the multiple strands woven together to create the ecumenical tapestry that is the life and work of the World Council of Churches,” she writes.
The United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) sends its warmest greetings. “The World Council of Churches is a reminder of the presence and grace of God in all places and cultures, a beacon of peace and justice, and an advocate for global, Christian collaboration,” writes Thomas Kemper, GBGM general secretary. “We give thanks for opportunities over the years for Global Ministries and World Council partnerships in ecumenical staff appointments and collaborative mission ventures, including the current peace and reunification initiative in Korea and the recent young adult component of the World Mission Conference in Tanzania.”
The Czechoslovak Hussite Church shares its cordial greetings. “We appreciate that, after the political changes in 1989, our church could actively engage in the work of the WCC also through its committees including the Central Committee,” writes patriarch Tomas Butta. “We pray, and express our wish, that, with God’s support, the WCC can further continue to fulfil its mission to help the convergence and cooperation among churches all around the world to instigate the ecumenical dialogue and continue in the struggle for justice, reconciliation and peace for all.”
The Union of Welsh Independents expresses its thanks for the WCC’s endeavors. “Over the years we have had numerous reasons as a Union to thank God for the Council’s work in bringing the churches of the world closer together, and for its contribution in promoting dialogue and mutual understanding between the various traditions to which the world-wide family of Christians belong,” writes Rev. Dr Geraint Tudur, general secretary. “We rejoice that the Council today continues it its mission, seeking both Christian unity and unity of action in this troubled world.”
The three WCC member churches in New Zealand (the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia, the Methodist Church of New Zealand - Te Hahi Weteriana o Aotearoa, and the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand) send warm greetings in a letter which reads: “The lives of our churches in New Zealand have been enriched immeasurably and our agendas have been changed by the challenges that we have encountered through our participation in the great fellowship.”
Luis Macchi, president of the Disciples of Christ in Argentina, also expresses appreciation for the WCC’s work. "We are thankful for the great work that the WCC carries out for the good of the whole world,” Macchi writes. “We encourage you to continue work together with all those who put their love toward the service of others."
Rev. Gao Feng, president of the China Christian Council, sends congratulations. “We are thankful for the enormous supports and assistance provided by the WCC over the past three decades,” Feng writes.
Catholicos Karekin II, supreme patriarch of Catholicos of All Armenians, extends pontifical blessings. “In the midst of ongoing worldwide discrepancies, divisions, conflicts and wars, the 70th anniversary of the WCC, reminds us about our common responsibility and commitment to mankind, to God’s commandments and creation,” the patriarch writes. “In the modern world the WCC, as a model of a fellowship of Christian churches seeking renewal and transformation of souls, and for solutions to social problems, should go on making efforts for implementing the vision of a common service for the sake of justice and peace.”
Rev. Jerzy Samiec, senior bishop of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland, wishes many blessings and guidance from God for the years to come. “Without a doubt, the World Council of Churches is one of the most impressive and sustainable tools of the ecumenical pilgrimage,” Samiec writes. “The different temperatures, colours and fragrances of world Christianity are being reflected by the WCC in a recognizable and tangible way.”
Since its founding, the WCC has aimed to hold together theology and serving others, says Rev. Dr Martin Junge, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). In a world where unity is increasingly under threat, the LWF remains committed to the ecumenical movement, called to be witnesses of God’s love that “draws people together, reconciles and makes us yearn for justice and peace for all God’s creation.”
The World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) also sends anniversary greetings, noting that among its founders was Philip Potter, later general secretary of the WCC. “As both the WCC and WACC are fully aware, communication strengthens human dignity and affirms human equality,” the WACC message reads. “Communication rights are fundamentally related to issues of inclusion and exclusion, equality and inequality, access and denial.”
Mathews George Chunakara, general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), extends congratulations and best wishes to WCC and its leadership. “The common journey and joint actions in serving the Asian churches and the ecumenical movement by both CCA and WCC have fostered ecumenical collaboration necessary for united action in mission and prophetic witness,” he writes.
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) congratulates the WCC on “an impressive and faith-filled history.” A greeting from the CEC reads: “As we mark the achievements of the past 70 years together, we give thanks for the unique opportunity provided by the WCC to respond to God’s call for unity, mission, justice, and peace.”
Dr Luigi de Salvia, president of Religions for Peace Europe, expresses congratulations. “I wish you all the best in this mission and assure our desire of cooperation in the delicate and necessary commitment in fostering reconciliation between religions and peace among peoples,” Salvia writes.
Delegates at the Indigenous Global Ecumenical Gathering observed the 70th anniversary of the WCC in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand on 22 July. In a sermon for the occasion, Rev. Prince Devanandan, president and ecumenical officer of the Methodist Church of New Zealand, said WCC helps churches unify yet remain diverse.
“Being many is not something that we must do away with,” he said. “We need the rich diversity, with the richness of our diversity how can we be one.”
Greetings on the occasion of WCC’s 70th anniversary are being made available on the WCC website as they are received.