"Walking together, serving justice and peace"

Greetings from the Conference of European Churches to the World Council of Churches on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of its founding

With joy the Conference of European Churches celebrates 70 years since the founding of the World Council of Churches. Our fellowship congratulates yours on an impressive and faith-filled history dedicated to the building up of a global family of churches walking together, serving justice and peace.

The WCC, like many national and regional expressions of conciliar ecumenism, was born out of the ashes of global conflict that left millions dead and little hope for lasting global peace. While Europe was still smouldering, the WCC emerged as a beacon not only for the churches, but for humankind in its commitment to unity and peace with justice through deepening relationships despite profound cultural, political, and even religious differences. This light continues to shine bright today.

In the decades that followed, the WCC launched bold and fruitful theological dialogue made possible by its unique status in the ecumenical world. These conversations made real differences not only for participants and their communities of origin, but gave life to the biblical imperative "that all may be one." By prayerful discernment through your fellowship, churches came together on core aspects of the Christian faith, including baptism, eucharist, ministry, and ecclesiology. In parallel, the WCC grew in numbers and diversity, and benefited from this to enliven its ecumenical task. The global quality of all WCC's work has led to a strong and clear commitment to combatting structural injustice. The differing experiences held together in one fellowship allow for profound witness for racial and gender justice, the rights of children, protection of natural resources, and a commitment to sustainability in all its forms. In this way, the WCC will without doubt lead churches forward as we face new challenges and new joys.

Your history is richly intertwined with our own. Looking back, our people, our churches, and our concerns overlap. Europe has long been blessed by global ecumenical inspiration. Aroused by the World Student Christian Federation and the watershed Edinburgh Missionary Conference of 1910, a proposal to form “a league of churches” from Constantinople took root in the founding of the WCC in Amsterdam in 1948. Looking forward, together, we have the chance to renew our relationship and reinterpret it for distinctly twenty-first century challenges. We welcome the 11th Assembly to the European continent and pray that it will be a meaningful time for sharing with the global ecumenical movement.

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. May the WCC remain an inspiration for the churches and people of Europe, and for the global fellowship that enriches our common pilgrimage for justice and peace.

Erin Green
Communication Coordinator, Conference of European Churches