Mission Roots of the World Council of Churches Observed
Atlanta, Georgia, August 21, 2018—The mission agency of The United Methodist Church marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of the World Council of Churches in a letter recalling the role of mission groups in founding and sustaining the ecumenical organization, today composed of 350 Protestant and Orthodox communions representing more than a half billion Christians.
The anniversary is being formally observed on Aug. 23 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, at the very spot in the 15th century Nieuwe Kerk, (New Church) was created in 1948.
Global Ministries’ greetings were conveyed by its chief executive, Thomas Kemper, to WCC leaders in advance of the service in Amsterdam.
“We remember in prayers of thanksgiving the many blessings bestowed upon the church universal and the several communions by the vision, hopes and activities of the council across seven decades,” Kemper wrote. “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.”
He pointed to the impetus given to ecumenism by the 1910 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the merger of the International Missionary Council and the WCC in 1961. Kemper also pointed to special partnerships between Global Ministries and the WCC over the years and noted that three Methodists have served as general secretaries (CEOs) of the organization. Those three are the Rev. Phillip Potter of Dominica, the Rev. Emilio Castro of Uruguay and the Rev. Samuel Kobia of Kenya.
The full text of the letter follows:
Dear Ecumenical Colleagues:
Warmest greetings to the World Council of Churches on the 70th anniversary of its founding from the directors and staff of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.
As council leaders gather on August 23 at the very spot in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where the organization was formed in 1948, we remember in prayers of thanksgiving the many blessings bestowed upon the church universal and the several communions by the vision, hopes and activities of the council across seven decades. 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.
We give thanks for the role mission organizations individually and collectively have played in forming and sustaining the ecumenical movement represented by the World Council of Churches, beginning in 1910 with the first World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, which gave rise to the International Missionary Council (formed in 1921), which in turn, became an organic component of the council in 1961 in the form of the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism. We have both benefited from and contributed to work and heritage of this commission.
We give thanks for the mission conferences, from Edinburgh in 1910 to Arusha in 2018, and publications of the council – events and reports that have enriched our engagement in the Missio Dei, challenged our commitment to mission and evangelism, and introduced us to new ecumenical partners in witness to Jesus Christ.
We give thanks for opportunities over the years for Global Ministries and World Council of Churches 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.
We give thanks for the many Methodists who have served and been served by the World Council of Churches, including clergy and laity who help found the organization and provided leadership across the years; notably, three general secretaries, the Rev. Phillip Potter of Dominica, the Rev. Emilio Castro of Uruguay and the Rev. Samuel Kobia of Kenya.
We praise God for the mission servanthood of the World Council of Churches.