World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Release
150 route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
E-mail: media


2 September 1999


The Geneva headquarters of the World Council of Churches (WCC) is being asked to keep its deficit down to about CHF 50,000 (US$33,000) for the current year. The WCC may be facing a more significant shortfall according to Bishop Wolfgang Huber of Germany, moderator of the finance committee.

The WCCís total operating income was CHF 34,000,000 (US$22,667,000) in 1998 and it budgeted about CHF 28,700,000 (US$19,133,000) in 1999.

The committee, reporting to the WCC Central Committee meeting in Geneva August 24 -September 3, also urged the international organization to work with member churches in the hopes of increasing the number of churches paying the basic WCC membership fee of CHF 1,000 (US$666). Some 167 of the 336 member churches did not contribute their membership fees in 1998, the committee reported.

"Not all of the non- or low contributors came from economically depressed areas," the finance committee report said. The WCCís financial report shows that a number of North American and European member churches had not paid the basic membership fee for that year.

After two years, according to a resolution adopted by the Central Committee, non-payment of the membership fee should have "consequences" for the non-contributing churches. The consequences, the resolution said, would be somehow related to participation in the decision-making processes (of the WCC), and might affect the member churchesí eligibility to receive WCC subsidies.

The WCC decreased its operating expenses from CHF 35 million to CHF 30 million in the last two years; a good performance by investments offset some of the negative consequences of the reduction in contributions.

The Central Committee also approved a proposal from the finance committee encouraging member churches to consider an "Ecumenical Commitment Sunday" as a special means of highlighting the work of the WCC and collecting money to support WCC projects.

For more information contact:
Karin Achtelstetter, Media Relations Officer
tel.: (+41 22) 791 6153 (office);
e-mail: media
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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 336, 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.