World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Release
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29 January - 6 February 2001
Potsdam, Germany

31 January 2001

WCC Central Committee accepts new members, recognizes ecumenical groups

The World Council of Churches' (WCC) Central Committee accepted the membership applications of seven churches, received four ecumenical organizations as associate councils and recognized two groups as international ecumenical organizations. It also recognized two new churches formed as the result of mergers of four WCC members.

The Central Committee’s action, taken at its meeting in Potsdam, Germany, January 29, increases WCC membership to 342 churches and 60 associate councils. The WCC is an international fellowship of Christian churches, representing more than 400 million Christians worldwide.

New member churches received were:

  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia, a church with more than 550,000 baptized members in 102 parishes.
  • Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches, with more than 100,000 baptized members in 749 congregations.
  • Ekalesia Niue, representing 1,500 members in 13 congregations. The church was admitted into full membership under a WCC rule regarding exception to size. The Island of Niue is near Aotearoa-New Zealand.
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana, with nearly 26,000 members.
  • Africa Inland Church, Sudan, with 70,000 members in 154 congregations.
  • Association des Eglises baptistes au Rwanda (Association of Baptist Churches in Rwanda), with more than 250,000 baptized members in 120 congregations.

  • Mara Evangelical Church, Myanmar (formerly Burma), was accepted as an associate member. The church has more than 19,000 members in 97 congregations.

    Two new churches, the result of mergers of member churches, were recognized as full WCC members. United Reformed Church, Scotland, was formed from the merger of the Congregational Union of Scotland and the United Reformed Church in the United Kingdom. Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa, was formed from the merger of the Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa and the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa.

    The Central Committee received four associate councils. They are the Fédération protestante de France (French Protestant Federation), National Council of Churches of Burundi, Fédération des Eglises et Missions évangéliques du Cameroun (FEMEC) and the Malawi Council of Churches.

    It also recognized two groups as international ecumenical organizations. They are the Churches' Commission for Migrants in Europe and Ecumenical Youth Council in Europe.

    Photos from the Central Committee

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    The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 342, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.