Suggestions for Worship to Mark
the 50th Anniversary of the
World Council of Churches

The following is a suggested liturgy to mark the 50th Anniversary of the WCC. You may wish to adapt it for your own needs. Words in normal typeface are to be read by the Leader. Words in bold and italics are to be read by the People. Words in italics and in parentheses are general explanations, or origins of prayers. Music titles which are underlined can be viewed by clicking on the title. See the bottom of this page for Copyright Notice information.

    (This will be the start of worship every day at the Harare Assembly)

Blessed is our God always, now and ever and to the ages of ages.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall declare your praise.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Hymn    "O God Our Help in Ages Past"     (sung at the First Assembly at Amsterdam)


Father-Creator, Provider-from-of-old, Ancient-of-days,
freshborn from the womb of night are we.
In the first dawning of the new day we draw near to you.
Forlorn are the eyes till they've seen the Chief.
O you to whom we always look,
lighten our hearts as the sun throws light.
You are the greatest of Chiefs.

Beam upon us the morning sun
and stir up our damp spirits to activity.
Praise comes to you from redeemed sons and daughters.
We sing, we plead; but how seldom we commune with you, O God.
Warm our hearts by your presence continually.

O God, the Inspirer of our common worship,
and the Reward of all our seeking,
visit, we pray you, this congregation
and each of us with your indwelling spirit;
unite us in fellowship with your worshippers in all lands;
and grant that our thoughts and words
and the unspoken longings of our hearts
may be acceptable in your sight,
and may be offered in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.
    (prayer adapted from a service led by Ms Rena Karefa-Smart, 2 September 1948,
    First Assembly, Amsterdam)

Entry of the Word    "Agios O Theos"    (The Bible is brought forward)

Old Testament Reading    Exodus 13:17-22

As a people on a journey, on a journey together in the ecumenical movement, let us hear how God led others.    (Bible text read)
Psalm 100, vss 1-5    "All People that on Earth do Dwell", vs. 1
              (sung at the First Assembly at Amsterdam)
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into his presence with singing.

Response    "All people that on earth do dwell", vs. 2

Know that the Lord is God.
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Response    "All people that on earth do dwell", vs. 3

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.

Response    "All people that on earth do dwell", vs. 4

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Response    "All people that on earth do dwell", vs. 1 repeated

Epistle Reading    Eph. 2:13-22

The journey is toward peace and unity. We listen to hear what God has already done.
(Bible text read)

Alleluia    (Russian or other Alleluia)

Gospel Reading    Luke 4:16-21

The journey is toward justice and freedom. We journey to hear the voice of Jesus.
(Bible text read)

Sermon     (Click here for Sermon Resources)

Prayers of Intercession

Response    "O-so-so" vs.1 or "Kyrie eleison"
Let us pray.
From the sin which is in us, leading us to prefer our will to yours,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From prejudice and blindness, in our souls, in our nation, and in our religious fellowship,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From unreadiness to hear your call, and from slothfulness in our obedience,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From racial pride and national arrogance, whereby we mar the harmony of life
in your great family,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From easy contentment with what is familiar, and from hesitation in making adventure
for your Kingdom,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From failure to recognize your Holy Spirit dispensing other gifts differing from those which we have received,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From love of all that hinders us from conformity to your holy will,
Good Lord, deliver us.

Almighty God, in whom is calmness, peace, and concord,
heal the divisions which separate your children
from one another,
and enable them to keep the unity of the spirit
in the bond of peace.
while there are diversities of knowledge and faith,
and we cannot all be of the same mind,
may we be made one in love and in devotion to your holy will.

Deliver us from all blindness and prejudice,
from all clamour and evil speaking,
that, by the charity of our temper and thought and life,
we may show forth the power and beauty
of the religion we profess,
to the glory of your holy name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    (prayer adapted, from a service led by Bishop Ivan Lee Holt, 24 August 1948,
    First Assembly, Amsterdam)

Response    "O-so-so" vs. 2 or "Kyrie eleison"

With people around the world using the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle,
we pray this week for the people and churches of Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.

Let us pray for the victims of the conflict in Colombia,
that they may find healing;
for the initiatives being undertaken by civil society,
that the peace makers will be blessed;
for those involved in armed conflict,
that they may find the path to reconciliation and forgiveness.

Let us give thanks to God
for the compassionate and prophetic role being played
by many churches in the midst of difficult and dangerous situations,
and pray that they will be given strength and guidance
as they continue their programme on justice and peace.

Through our prayers,
let us share in international solidarity with Colombia
expressed through the joint initiatives of the World Council of Churches,
the Latin American Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation and
the National Council of Churches-USA.

May the God of peace give the fruits of lasting peace with justice
to our sisters and brothers in Colombia.
    (prayer by Amilcar Ulloa A.,Colombia)

Response    "O-so-so" vs. 3 or "Kyrie eleison"

Blessed Trinity, God of the Jubilee,
we turn to you.
Where there is generosity found in us,
expand it with your grace;
where our longing for newness has run dry,
refresh it with your truth;
where there is a creativity of heart,
deepen it with your wisdom;
where there is a hope of reconciliation
add your power to make us one.
Raise up in us an honesty of mind,
a passion for justice,
and a courage to choose your prophetic way.

Turn your face to us in grace, O God,
and breathe into us the life of your Spirit.

For we long for justice,
we long for peace
and we long for an ending of oppression,
so that the songs of freedom and love
will one day rise in joy from every place.
Give us the courage and hope
to lift high the cross
in all the corners of the world!
In the South!
In the West!
In the North!
In the East!

Come, Jesus Christ, and be seen in the healing of the nations.
    (prayer for opening worship, Eighth Assembly, Harare 1998)

Response    "O-so-so" vs. 4 or "Kyrie eleison"

Petitions concerning the ecumenical movement in the local setting    (to be added)

Response    "O-so-so" vs. 1 or "Kyrie eleison"

Lord's Prayer

The Peace

Because Christ has already broken down the dividing wall,
in Christ we are no longer strangers or aliens
with any Christian the whole world over.
We are pilgrims together.
We are members of the household of God which spans the earth.
We are citizens with the saints of every time,
travelling together,
growing together,
rejoicing together that this is the year of the Lord's favour.
Let us offer one another signs of peace and love.
The peace of the Lord be with you.
And also with you.
    (the congregation offers each other the peace of Christ)
Prayer of Thanksgiving
We give thanks to God, the holy and undivided Trinity,
that we are one in our Lord Jesus Christ,
not by the agreement of our minds or the consent of our wills,
but by that which he, in his unmerited grace,
has done for us in his incarnation, death and resurrection,
and by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We thank you, O God.
    (from the closing service, First Assembly, Amsterdam)

We give thanks for the gift of baptism by water and the Spirit
and for the increasing recognition
that this is a common sign of our communion together.
We thank you, O God.
    (from the Fifth World Conference on Faith and Order, Santiago de Compostela 1993)

We give you thanks for resources shared, the homeless fed, refugees sheltered and common witness against injustice and strife.
We thank you, O God.

For the proclamation of the gospel, for moments when people of other cultures are respected, and for learning to learn from one another.
We thank you, O God.

    (other thanksgivings appropriate to the local setting may be added)

Offering for the Jubilee Fund of the World Council of Churches
Note: Looking towards the Harare Assembly, the offering might be taken up in an African style. Instead of passing collection plates, the congregation is invited to come forward and place their offering on the altar, or on a table placed in the front. Suggested music during the offering: Prayer over the gifts
Gracious God, we thank you for the World Council of Churches.
We have remained together in prayer, thought and action.
We give thanks
for all that we have accomplished and learned together:
for prejudices overcome,
misunderstandings removed,
sympathies enlarged,
insight deepened
and for all advance that has been made towards a common mind.
    (adapted from the closing service, First Assembly, Amsterdam)

Use these gifts so that the year of your favour
may be experienced in our world and in our midst,
through Jesus Christ, the Reconciler and Redeemer.

Hymn    "The Church's One Foundation"


Terry MacArthur, Worship Consultant
World Council of Churches
P.O. Box 2100
1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland

Tel.: (+41.22) 791 6486
Fax: (+41.22) 791 0361
E-mail: WCC contact

World Council of Churches
Eighth Assembly
3 - 14 December
Harare, Zimbabwe

Turn to God -- Rejoice in Hope

Copyright Notice: The copyright holders have kindly given permission that their work may be used for worship bulletins and other materials connected with the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the World Council of Churches. However, the copyright holders retain all rights and permission needs to be obtained for all other uses. When using this material appropriate copyright information must be attached.
Thank you
A Jubilee Anniversary
List of Assembly Materials
WCC homepage