British Council of Churches

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The British Council of Churches (BCC) was an organization established in England in 1942 for the promotion of common action among the Christian churches of Great Britain. It sought to facilitate common evangelical action among the churches, to promote international friendship, to stimulate a sense of social responsibility, to guide youth work, to assist in the growth of ecumenical consciousness, and to promote Christian unity. Various conferences and groupings of the free churches had previously existed, but the BCC brought together the established churches of England and Scotland and the nonconforming churches. Beginning with William temple, the first president, the presidency was held by the archbishop of Canterbury. The BCC included the Church of England; the Episcopalians of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales; the English Presbyterians; the Presbyterian Church of Scotland; the Methodists; the Congregationalists; the Churches of Christ; the Baptists; the Quakers; the Unitarians; and the Salvation Army. The Greek Orthodox Church became a member in 1965. Associated with the council are also interdenominational societies such as the YMCA, the YWCA, the Student Christian Movement, the Christian Auxiliary Movement, and the Conference of British Missionary Societies.

Roman Catholics were not part of the BCC until 1990, when they were formally admitted. With the inclusion of Roman Catholics, the BCC changed its name to the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland, and in 1999 they adopted the name Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI). In addition to building an ecumenical spirit among the member churches, the CTBI has undertaken the task of helping the churches to collaborate in common projects.

Bibliography: g. k. a. bell, ed., Documents on Christian Unity, 3d ser., 193048 (New York 1948), No. 187, contains the articles of amalgamation of BCC. l. j. francis and k. williams, Churches in Fellowship: Local Councils of Churches in England Today (London 1991).

[w. hannah/eds.]

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British Council of Churches

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