Christian Ecumenical Organizations
Christian Ecumenical Organizations
Alliance of Confessing Churches
1716 Spruce St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals was formed by a group of Protestant leaders and churches as an association to speak to contemporary world self-consciously from the perspective of the Ancient and Reformation creeds. As a guiding perspective, the Alliance seeks to recover for the Christian church an emphasis on the landmarks of the reformation-the Scripture as the sole norm of faith, grace as the sole cause of God's salvation, Christ as the sole and sufficient Savior, and faith as the sole instrument by which God saves the sinner. The alliance exists as a broad coalition of Protestant Evangelical leaders from a number of different denominations–Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Reformed and others.
The alliance has supported a wide variety of conferences for theologians and ministers.
Membership: Among the churches who members are supportive of the alliance are the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Bible Presbyterian Church, Free Presbyterian Church, Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America, Presbyterian Reformed Church, Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, Protestant Reformed Churches, United Reformed Churches, Reformed Episcopal Church, The Traditional Protestant Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Lutheran Church-Canada, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals, and the Reformed Ecumenical Council.
Periodicals: Modern Reformation, Box 2000, Philadelphia, PA19103.
Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. http://www.alliancenet.org/. 10 April 2002.
American Council of Christian Churches
625 E. 4th St.
PO Box 5455
Bethlehem, PA 18015
The American Council of Christian Churches was founded in 1941 as an expression of not only the fundamentalist-modernist split in American Protestantism, but also the growing split among conservative Christians into fundamentalist separatists and evangelicals. The American Council represented the most conservative wing of Protestant thought, generally characterized by an affirmation of both the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible and a desire to separate fully from the heresy and apostasy which it saw gaining control of liberal Protestantism, then embodied in the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America. The American Council has also rejected as unacceptable the willingness of some conservative Christians, with whom it agrees theologically, to cooperate on programs or be a part of otherwise liberal Protestant projects and groups.
The leading figure in the formation of the council was Carl McIntire, founder of the Bible Presbyterian Church. McIntire had left the Presbyterian Church in 1936 during the fundamentalist controversy, but because of his acceptance of premillennial eschatology McIntire was at odds with other conservative fundamentalists such as J. Gresham Machen and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Thus in 1941 McIntire became the first president of the American Council of Christian Churches (ACCC), dominated it for a quarter of a century, and led it through a series of controversies.
In 1948, McIntire led in the founding of the International Council of Christian Churches, which held its first meeting in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, shortly before the inaugural meeting of the World Council of Churches in that same city. McIntire was accused of deliberately trying to interfere with the World Council and mislead the public. In 1950 he sponsored a project to send Christian literature into Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union via balloons. Such actions began to cost him the allegiance of many leading conservative Christians who had originally given the ACCC its support. Then in 1956 the Bible Presbyterian Church split after a majority repudiated McIntire. Three years later the ACCC itself acted to remove McIntire from its board, and it moved on to a new phase of its existence.
The ACCC remains in opposition to the ecumenical movement as embodied in the World Council of Churches and the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and regularly assumes a position in opposition to those bodies it feels are contrary to biblical doctrine. In like measure, the ACCC is opposed to the National Association of Evangelicals and prohibits members from holding joint membership. In 1987 the ACCC supported the formation of the Council of Bible Believing Churches now the World Council of Biblical Churches, International, a worldwide fellowship association of fundamentalist churches.
Membership: The ACCC includes among its members the following: Evangelical Methodist Church of America; Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches; Fellowship of Independent Methodists; Free Presbyterian Church of North America; Fundamental Methodist Church; General Association of Regular Baptist Churches; Independent Churches Affiliated; and Tioga River Christian Conference. In addition, an unreported number of independent congregations are also affiliated with the ACCC.
Periodicals: Fundamental News Service.
Mayer, F. E. The Religious Bodies of America. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1956.
Roy, Ralph Lord. Apostles of Discord. Boston: Beacon Press, 1953.
Canadian Council of Churches
3250 Bloor St., 2nd Fl.
Toronto, ON, Canada M8X 2Y4
The Canadian Council of Churches (also known as the Council canadian des Eglises) was founded in 1944, a product of the ecumenical movement which would soon lead to the formation of the World Council of Churches and the immediate necessity for coordinated action by churches both during and after World War II. Member churches are required to confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior according to the Bible and seek to fulfill their common calling to the glory of God. The council seeks to give visible expression to the unity of its member bodies in Jesus Christ.
The council attempts to further ecumenism, to speak to social problems of the day, to facilitate the encounter of Christians of different denominations, and to respond creatively to social change. It operates through the leadership of a president, a general board, a general secretary, and commissions on world concerns and Canadian concerns. Its assembly meets triennially. The council cooperates with the World Council of Churches and nurtures the development of regional and local church councils throughout Canada.
The council's Internet address is http://www.ccc-cce.ca.
Membership: Member denominations include the following: Anglican Church of Canada; Armenian Church of America-Diocese of Canada; Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Coptic Orthodox Church of Canada; Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Canada; Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; Greek Orthodox Diocese of Toronto; Orthodox Church in America, Diocese of Canada; Polish National Catholic Church; Presbyterian Church in Canada; Reformed Church in America-Classis of Ontario; Religious Society of Friends-Canada Yearly Meeting; Salvation Army-Canada and Bermuda; and United Church of Canada. In addition, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (the Roman Catholic Church) is an associate member.
Directory of Christian Councils. Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1985.
Council of Bible Believing Churches International
625 E. 4th St.
PO Box 5455
Bethlehem, PA 18015
The World Council of Bible Believing Churches International was founded in 1987 as the Council of Bible Believing Churches International as an association of Fundamentalist Christian churches at the instigation of the American Council of Christian Churches (ACCC). From 1948 to 1969, the American Council had an international affiliate, the International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC). However, in 1969, the ACCC removed Carl McIntire from its board, and the International Council of Christian Churches, which McIntire had been instrumental in founding, had sided with him. The ICCC and the ACCC discontinued their relationship. The council sees itself as an issue-oriented body whose members have come together to speak to the major concerns of Fundamentalist Christians worldwide.
Along with the ACCC, with whom it shares its headquarters facilities, the council is a conservative Protestant body affirming the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible and the need for complete separation from heresy and apostasy such as the council believes is manifest in the World Council of Churches and the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. To council members, separation includes militant opposition to Romanism, Ecumenism, Materialism, Communism, and every other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. Members of the council cannot be affiliated with, or represented in any manner by, the World Council of Churches or any of its affiliates, the World Evangelical Fellowship (WEF) or any of its affiliates, the International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC) or any of its affiliates, the modern Charismatic Movement, or the Ecumenical Movement.
The council is governed by an executive committee which includes representatives from each member body.
Membership: North American members of the council are the same as those in the American Council of Christian Churches: Evangelical Methodist Church of America; Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches; Fellowship of Independent Methodists; Free Presbyterian Church of North America; Fundamental Methodist Church; General Association of Regular Baptist Churches; Independent Churches Affiliated; and Tioga River Christian Conference.
Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
MIP Box 3745Dr.
Markham, ON, Canada L3R 0Y4
Alternate Address: Mailing Address: Box 8800, Sta. B, Willowdale, ON M2K 2R6, Canada.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada was founded in 1964 and serves conservative Protestant denominations, organizations, congregations, and individuals. It has a doctrinal stance like that of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), which emphasizes the Bible as the infallible Word of God and the necessity of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. Like the NAE, it is a member of the World Evangelical Fellowship. It provides Protestant Christians with an alternative to the Canadian Council of Churches.
Membership: Not reported. Membership has included: 32 Protestant denominations, 150 church -affiliated organizations, 1,000 local church congregations, and more than 15,0 00 supporting individuals.
Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America
The Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America was the dominant ecumenical structure in American Christianity during the first half of the twentieth century. Prior to its formation there had been much cooperative work by various Protestant church groups, but none had moved on to the national level to organize an official cooperative body that would have the official backing of the respective denominations. The need for such a cooperative body grew out of the desire to have a more influential voice in solving the new state of urban problems that had arisen with the dramatic expansion of the cities in the 1880s and 1890s.
In 1898 the National Council of the Congregational Churches called for a gathering to consider such a structure. Then in 1900 an unofficial National Federation of Churches and Christian Workers formed with the purpose of planning a conference of church representatives to strategize about building a closer working relationship. Elias B. Sanford, corresponding secretary of the Open and Institutional Church League, took the lead in advocacy of the new federation. In 1901 Sanford gained the signatures of 25 prominent church leaders to issue a call for a national federation. In 1902 plans for a national conference of official delegates were initiated, and a conference date set in 1905. Later in 1902, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, became the first to offer a positive response.
In 1905, 29 denominations sent delegates to a planning conference in New York City, where a "Plan of Federation" was developed looking toward the creation of the Federal Council. It had been assumed that the denominations were in substantial agreement theologically, and little mention was made of doctrinal divergences (the most acrimonious phase of the fundamentalist-modernist controversy being yet two decades in the future). The American Unitarian Association, a nontrinitarian group, did not attend. The conference submitted its proposed plan to the various denominations.
The council was designed as a delegated body centered upon the common witness of its denominational members. Each denomination was apportioned members according to size, but each group had a minimum of four delegates. It was to be an advisory body to facilitate communication among the different churches and allow them to speak with a common voice on important issues. Committees were appointed to work in the various phases of church life such as evangelism, Sunday observance, temperance, etc., though they had little financial support or power to act. The Federal Council also sought to build regional and local ecumenical councils around the country to implement the National Council's work.
Thirty-three denominations were represented in 1908 at the gathering in Philadelphia to inaugurate the Federal Council of Churches. It immediately had to face the competition it posed for older cooperative organizations that specialized in a single area of church life–Sunday schools, foreign missions, youthwork, etc. Thus the council moved first into an as-yet poorly addressed area, social concerns. From the Methodists it borrowed a social statement which it reworked as "The Social Ideals of the Churches." This statement set the Federal Council on a course that would, in the next decades, clearly identify it with the more liberal and "social gospel" theological perspectives which became such an important part of what was being termed "modernist" theology. Several of the smaller, more conservative denominations soon dropped out of membership because of what they perceived as too much emphasis on social issues.
Since the ecumenical movement owed much of its inspiration to concerns in the mission field between competing missionary programs, the council attempted to address that issue and spoke to the need for spreading to foreign lands the spirit of cooperation expressed by the existence of the council in America. This perspective would lead to a later shift of emphasis by American churches, who moved funds away from the sending of missionaries to the undergirding of indigenous churches in former mission fields.
The Federal Council survived the era of World War I and joined in rebuilding efforts after the war. It survived the fundamentalist-modernist controversy and saw the organization of two competing groups during World War II, the American Council of Christian Churches representing separatist fundamentalists, and the National Association of Evangelicals representing more mainline conservative Protestants.
After the war, the growing ecumenical movement, signaled by the efforts to organize the World Council of Churches, also gave voice to those who wished that a more centralized agency, bringing together all of the concerns now spread out among a number of ecumenical structures, could be created. While the Federal Council was that in name, in fact it did not operate effectively in areas such as foreign missions, religious education, and women's concerns. Therefore a plan was drawn up to unite the Federal Council with a number of other agencies, and on January 1, 1951, the Federal Council was superseded by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
Cavert, Samuel McCrea. The American Churches in the Ecumenical Movement, 1900–1968. New York: Association Press, 1968.
International Council of Christian Churches
℅ Suzanne L. Deacon, Sec.
756 Haddon Ave. Collingswood, NJ 08108
The International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC) was founded in 1948 by a number of conservative Protestant Christians, the most prominent being Dr. Carl McIntire, also the founder of the Bible Presbyterian Church in Collinwood, New Jersey. It was the international counterpart of the American Council of Christian Churches (ACCC), founded in 1941, also very much inspired by the efforts of McIntire. However, in 1969, McIntire and the ACCC went their separate ways and McIntire founded the American Christian Action Council (ACCC). At that time, the ICCC recognized the ACAC, now known as the ICCC in America.
The ICCC has grown out of the split within twentieth-century Protestantism between fundamentalists and modernists and represents the continuing allegiance to fundamentalist positions. Also, in the 1940s, as fundamentalists split into two factions, the ICCC was aligned with the more conservative faction. It upholds the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible and calls Christians to separate themselves from all evil, especially heresy and apostasy.
The major target of the ICCC has been the modern ecumenical movement as represented in the World Council of Churches and the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. The ICCC has often been criticized for holding its meetings in the same city and at relatively close times to the World Council's meetings.
Membership: At its fiftieth anniversary in Amsterdam in 1998, the ICCC reported 700 denominations from over 100 countries in its membership.
Harden, Margaret C., comp. A Brief History of the Bible Presbyterian Church and Its Agencies. Privately published, 1968.
Mayer, F. E. The Religious Bodies of America. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1956.
Leuenberg Church Fellowship
3 D-10623 Berlin, Germany
The Leuenberg Church Fellowship is an alliance of more than a hundred (mostly European) Protestant Christian denominations that have agreed that they have a shared understanding on a number of key points of Christian belief. Based upon that understanding, they can share complete pulpit and table fellowship, meaning that ministers of any group in the fellowship may be allowed to preach in the congregations of the other churches and that members recognize and may receive the sacraments of the other churches. The agreement grew out of conversations initiated between the Lutheran and Reformed churches following World War II, that were later expanded to include the Waldensian Church (Italy) and the Church of the Czech Brethren (Czechoslovakia).
In 1973, the Leuenberg Church Fellowship was formed, following the publication of a lengthy agreement that participating churches had reached. The agreement affirms the Christian faith centered in the affirmation of the triune god and salvation in Jesus Christ. Essential to the agreement, however, were the paragraphs on the sacraments, the major doctrine diving Protestants at the time of the Reformation in the sixteenth century.
In language that bypasses the disagreements of Martin Luther and John Calvin, the agreement affirmed that in the Lord's Supper, "the risen Jesus Christ imparts himself in his body and blood, given up for all, through his word of promise with bread and wine." This formulation laid aside a host of creedal statements issued through the centuries by the Reformation churches. It also allowed a variety of different churches to sign the agreement and the fellowship soon included the Methodists, though neither the Baptists (who have a nonsacramental view of the Lord's supper) nor the Anglicans have affiliated. Most Fellowship members are also members of the World Council of Churches.
Membership: Among the 103 churches of the fellowship is the American-based United Methodist Church, which has congregations scattered across Europe.
Leuenberg Church Fellowship. http://www.leuenberg.net/. 15 January 2002.
National Association of Evangelicals
Wheaton, IL 60187
The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) grew out of the reorganization of conservative Protestants following the most eventful phase of the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the 1920s and 1930s. Through the first decades of the twentieth century, conservative Protestants had seen many of the major denominations, especially the Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians in the northern states, become dominated by what they considered approaches to Christianity that abandoned essential beliefs and placed an undue emphasis on social reform, with a resulting deemphasis on missions and evangelism.
The battle between conservatives (the fundamentalists) and the liberals (the modernists) led to the liberals taking control of most of the denominational leadership, and increasingly in the 1930s, to many conservatives leaving to form new schools, mission-sending agencies, and denominations. By the end of the 1930s, fundamentalists seemed to have divided into two mutually exclusive camps. In this context many conservatives began a reevaluation of their situation. They were in agreement with the conservative theological emphasis of the fundamentalists of the 1920s but were upset at what appeared an unwarranted separatism and fear of the modern world. These conservatives wanted to embrace modern learning, which they felt could be accommodated to their theological commitments. Also, many did not want to separate from the denominational heritage in which they had grown up and wanted to be able to work with their modernist colleagues in areas not relating directly to their doctrinal conflicts. This position became known as Neo-evangelicalism.
The National Association of Evangelicals emerged as one of the organizational expressions of Neoevangelicalism. It included among its leaders representatives from those churches which had resisted the pull of modernism, new churches formed out of the fundamentalist controversy, and conservative pockets that remained in most of the older liberal Protestant denominations. Liberal Protestant denominations had previously organized into the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America. In 1941, separatist fundamentalists had organized the American Council of Christian Churches in opposition to the Federal Council at every point.
Thus in 1942, evangelicals effected a national organization. Direct inspiration for the National Association was given by the successes of the regional New England Evangelical Fellowship which had formed in the late 1930s. Not limited to denominational membership, it allowed denominations, individual congregations, and various organizations and schools to become members. Members are united by a seven-point confession of faith that affirms belief in the Bible as the authoritative and infallible Word of God, the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the human need of salvation, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the resurrection of humans, and the spiritual unity of believers.
The NAE has developed a broad program to serve its members, the most important being to provide a united witness for Evangelical Christians. It assists mission agencies in their interaction with foreign governments, has developed a relief arm to assist the needy around the world, and interacts with the armed forces on the matter of chaplaincies for member organizations. It also reaches out through National Religious Broadcasters, the National Sunday School Association, and its Evangelism and Spiritual Life Commission. As the NAE has matured, it has also spoken on a variety of social issues and has established an Office of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C.
The National Association is a member of the World Evangelical Fellowship, whose North American headquarters are located in the NAE headquarters building in Wheaton, Illinois.
Membership: Membership in the NAE is held by a number of denominations, who provide the bulk of its support, and several hundred evangelical organizations. Denominational members include the following: Advent Christian Church; Assemblies of God; Baptist General Conference; Brethren Church (Ashland, Ohio); Brethren in Christ Church; Christian and Missionary Alliance; Christian Catholic Church (Evangelical Protestant); Christian Church of North America; Christian Reformed Church of North America; Christian Union; Church of Christ in Christian Union; Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee); Church of God of the Mountain Assembly; Church of the Nazarene; Church of the United Brethren in Christ; Congregation Holiness Church; Conservative Baptist Association of America; Conservative Congregational Christian Conference; Elim Fellowship; Evangelical Christian Church; Evangelical Church of North America; Evangelical Congregational Church; Evangelical Free Church of America; Evangelical Friends International/North America; Evangelical Mennonite Church; Evangelical Methodist Church; Evangelical Presbyterian Church; Evangelistic Missionary Fellowship; Fire-Baptized Holiness Church of God of the Americas; Free Methodist Church of North America; General Association of General Baptists; International Church of the Foursquare Gospel; International Pentecostal Church of Christ; International Pentecostal Holiness Church; Mennonite Brethren Churches, USA; Midwest Congregational Christian Fellowship; Missionary Church; Open Bible Standard Churches; Pentecostal Church of Christ; Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church; Presbyterian Church in America; Primitive Methodist Church, USA; Reformed Episcopal Church; Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America; Salvation Army; Wesleyan Church; World Confessional Lutheran Association; Worldwide Churches of God; and Vineyard Christian Fellowship. In addition, members and congregations of many other denominations are also related to the NAE.
Periodicals: NAE Washington Insight.
Carpenter, Joel A., ed. A New Evangelical Coalition: Early Documents of the National Association of Evangelicals. New York: Garland Publishing, 1988.
NAE Resolutions. Wheaton, IL: National Association of Evangelicals, 1985.
Shelley, Bruce L. Evangelism in America. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing House, 1967.
National Black Evangelistic Association
5736 N. Albina Ave.
Portland, OR 97217
The National Black Evangelistic Association was founded in 1963 as the National Negro Evangelical Association as a cooperative organization for conservative African-American ministers and churches. Most of the founding members were Baptist. In 1970 the association attracted 1,500 delegates to the first African-American conference on evangelism, which met at St. Stephen Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. The building of lines of communication among African-American evangelicals and the development of local evangelistic programs have provided a focus for the association. In 1988 the association founded the Institute of Black Evangelical Thought and Action.
Membership: Not reported.
Periodicals: NBEA Outreach. • Journal.
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
475 Riverside Dr.
New York, NY 10115-0050
The National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. is the largest of the several Christian ecumenical councils operating in the United States. It includes among its member organizations most of the older liberal Protestant churches and many of the American branches of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches.
The National Council was founded in 1950 by representatives of 29 Protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox communions who met in Cleveland, Ohio. The council represented the merger of 12 previously existing national ecumenical organizations, the most important being the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, which it superseded. The 11 remaining bodies included the Foreign Missions Conference of North America, Home Missions Council of North America, International Council of Religious Education, Missionary Education Movement of the United States and Canada, National Protestant Council on Higher Education, United Council of Church Women, United Stewardship Council, Church World Service, Interseminary Committee, Protestant Film Commission, and The Protestant Radio Commission. Three years later, the Student Volunteer Movement merged into the council.
In its formation, the National Council followed the example previously set by the World Council of Churches (founded in 1948), and many of its leaders also served a American representatives in World Council work. The council was established, among other purposes, to manifest the churches' oneness in Christ, to continue the work of the predecessor agencies, to renew the life of the church, to foster cooperation, and to speak as a single voice on important public and social issues. In this last function, like the former Federal Council of Churches, the National Council has remained involved in controversy, which peaked during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, to which it gave its full support.
The council is headed by its president, a general assembly (representative of the member churches), and a general secretary. It maintains work in the areas of faith, justice, and education. Through its various units and subunits, the council speaks to its constituency and the general public. Policy statements are issued by the general assembly, which meets annually. The council's Internet site is http://www.nccusa.org.
Membership: Most members of the National Council are also members of the World Council of Churches, though some are represented through their international headquarters, which may be in another country:
African Methodist Episcopal Church; African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; The Alliance of Baptists; American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.; The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America; Armenia Church of America; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; Church of the Brethren; Coptic Orthodox Church in North America; The Episcopal Church; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Friends United Meeting; Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; Hungarian Reformed Church in America; International Council of Community Churches; Korean Presbyterian Church in America; Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church; Mar Thoma Syrian Church of India; Moravian Church in America (Northern Province, Southern Province); National Baptist Convention of America; National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc.; National Missionary Baptist Convention of America; Orthodox Church in America; Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in the USA; Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends; Polish National Catholic Church of America; Presbyterian Church (USA); Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.; Reformed Church in America; Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada; The Swedenborgian Church; Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch; Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America; United Church of Christ; and The United Methodist Church. Membership has remained fairly stable over the years, though a few churches have left and others have joined. Approximately 50 million Christians belong to the council's 36 member communions.
Periodicals: Yearbook of American Churches. • Eculink.
Cavert, Samuel McCrea. The American Churches in the Ecumenical Movement, 1900–1968. New York: Association Press, 1968.
National Fraternal Council of Negro Churches
The National Fraternal Council of Negro Churches was a pioneering African-American ecumenical organization founded in Chicago, Illinois, in 1934 as the Negro Fraternal Council of Churches. Bishop Reverdy C. Ransom of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was the first president of the council. From the original seven-member organization, the council grew to 12 organizations which were to dominate its life. The council was somewhat modeled on the Federal Council of Churches and represented the most liberal Protestant denominations. It divided its work into 12 working areas which paralleled those of the Federal Council, though with some specialized work areas such as race relations, Africa, and peace. The Fraternal Council had a Washington, D.C., office to monitor legislation of special interest to the African-American community.
The council functioned well for a generation. Among its accomplishments was the founding of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia. However, as the civil rights movement gained center stage, the council's leadership role fell to other, newer organizations, and it gradually faded in importance.
Membership: Members of the council included the following: African Methodist Episcopal Church; African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; African Orthodox Church; Bible Way Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ World Wide; Central Jurisdiction of the Methodist Episcopal Church; Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; Church of God in Christ; Church of God and Saints of Christ; Metropolitan Community Church of Christ; National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc.; National Baptist Convention of America; and United American Free Will Baptist Church.
Guzman, Jessie Parkhurst. Negro Yearbook. Tuskegee, AL: Department of Records and Research, Tuskegee Institute, 1947.
World Council of Churches
425 Riverside Dr.
New York, NY 10115
Alternate Address: International Headquarters: Box 66, 150 route de Ferney, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland.
The World Council of Churches, the primary organization representing the Christian community outside of the Roman Catholic Church, grew out of and is the major expression of the ecumenical movement of the twentieth century. International cooperation of Anglican and Protestant churches had been carried on through the first half of the century by three distinct bodies, each concerned with a special area of Christian church life: the Universal Christian Council for Life and Work, the Continuation Committee of the World Conference of Faith and Order, and the International Missionary Council. In 1933, William Adams Brown suggested to Anglican Abp. William Temple that representatives of these organizations, along with the World Alliance for International Friendship and the Student Christian Movement, begin conversations about their common future.
Archbishop Temple initiated informal discussions, which led in 1937 to a proposal to form a World Council of Churches. Work began on a constitution in 1938. The council was to include those churches which accepted Jesus Christ as God and Savior. Deliberations were slowed by the advent of World War II; however, the American members of the provisional committee opened an office in New York City and created an American Committee for the World Council of Churches. The provisional committee resumed its work in 1946.
The inaugural Assembly of the World Council was held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1948. The desire for the council was spurred by the formation of the United Nations and the perceived need for a means of staying in contact with it. The council seeks to be a visible symbol of the unity of the individual Christian churches, to encourage their common witness for Christ, and to support their worldwide missional thrusts. The council assigned itself the tasks of facilitating common action by its member bodies, promoting cooperation among various churches, and promoting the growth of ecumenical conferences.
The council carries out its program through regular meetings of its General Assembly and a continuing program centered upon its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. There is a full-time general staff that operates under the guidance of the general secretary. Along with the general secretariat, there are three Program Units: Faith and Witness, Justice and Service, and Education and Renewal.
Integral to the carrying out of the council's work are the many regional and national councils, which in North America include the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and the Canadian Council of Churches. Individual churches may be members of the World Council of Churches irrespective of their membership in one of the national councils.
Membership: The World Council of Churches currently consists of more than 300 member churches, including from North America the following: African Methodist Episcopal Church; African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.; Anglican Church of Canada; Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East; Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; Church of the Brethren; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada; Friends General Conference; Friends United Meeting; Hungarian Reformed Church in America; International Council of Community Churches; International Evangelical Church; Moravian Church in America; National Baptist Convention of America; National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc.; Orthodox Church in America; Polish National Catholic Church of America; Presbyterian Church of Canada; Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.; Reformed Church in America; United Church of Canada; United Church of Christ; and United Methodist Church. In addition, many international churches with members in North America, including the various Orthodox bodies, are represented through their international headquarters.
Periodicals: The Ecumenical Courier. • The Ecumenical Review. • One World International Review of Missions.
Cavert, Samuel McCrea. The American Churches in the Ecumenical Movement, 1900–1968. New York: Association Press, 1968. Directory of Christian Councils. Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1985.
"Toward a Common Understanding and Vision of the World Council of Churches." http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/who/cuv-e.html. 28 March 2002.
van der Bent, Ans J., ed. Handbook of Member Churches: World Council of Churches. Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1982.
World Evangelical Alliance
Box WEF Wheaton, IL 60189-8004
The World Evangelical Alliance, formerly known as the World Evangelical Fellowship was founded in 1951 but sees itself as the continuation of the Evangelical Alliance, which was founded in England in 1846 and had a vital life through the rest of the nineteenth century. The alliance suffered greatly from the rise of liberal Protestantism and its capture of most of the leading Protestant denominations in the early twentieth century.
The alliance serves as a coordinating and fellowship agency for all Evangelical groups, which have attained a growing presence around the world. It has a representative national organization in more than 110 countries. Regional organizations serve Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
The alliance has an Internet site at http://www.worldevangelical.org.
Membership: In North America the World Evangelical Fellowship operates through the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the National Association of Evangelicals (with whom it shares headquarters space). Worldwide, in 1997 WEF reported its 110 national and regional fellowship represented some 150 million believers in 60,000 congregations.
Periodicals: Evangelical World. • Evangelical Review of Theology, Box 1943, Birmingham, AL 35201.
Fuller, W. Harold. People of the Mandate-the Story of World Evangelical Fellowship. Grand Rapids, MI. Baker Book House, 1996. 214pp.
Howard, David M. The Dream That Would Not Die: The Birth and Growth of the World Evangelical Fellowship, 1846–1986. Exeter, UK: Paternoster Press, 1986.