Mutirão at the 9th Assembly, Porto Alegre 2006.

Signs of growth towards Christian unity

There have been many signs of growth towards Christian unity since the founding of the World Council of Churches.

During the past half-century the number of WCC member churches has more than doubled. At the same time, the Council has become much more truly a world body. Very nearly two-thirds of the original member churches came from Europe and North America. Today, nearly two-thirds are from the other parts of the globe.

Churches of almost every Christian tradition are involved in this movement towards the unity of the church. The Roman Catholic Church, though it is not a member of the WCC, maintains regular working relations with the Council.

The participation of women in the life of the WCC has increased; and their voices have been strengthened in ecumenical gatherings.

Signs of growth towards Christian unity can also be seen in what the churches have done together within the fellowship of the WCC. They have offered assistance to those driven from their homes by war, violence, poverty and environmental destruction. They have expressed solidarity in prayer and encouragement with persecuted churches and churches seeking God's will in the midst of crisis.

Through the WCC churches have encouraged one another to witness together to Jesus Christ in places where the voice of only one church would not be heard. They have learned from one another's insights into questions of doctrine and life on which they are divided.

They have accepted the judgement that every form of racism, also in their own life, is contrary to the word and will of God. They have challenged each other to replace old bonds of dominance and dependence by new forms of partnership.

They have worshipped together using each other's words and music, and they have learned to read the Bible through each other's eyes. Over these fifty years, a growing number of new councils of churches and other local, national, regional and global bodies have come to share with the WCC in this task of working for the unity of the church.