World Council of Churches
Potsdam, Germany
29 January - 6 February 2001


I. Member churches


Africa Inland Church - Sudan
The Africa Inland Mission moved into the southern Sudan from what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Mission was established in 1949 in good understanding with the Anglican Church which existed already in the area. It was expelled only 15 years later when all foreign missionaries had to leave the southern Sudan. In the meantime the Africa Inland Church came into being. The church became autonomous in 1972, when it had about 1000 members and a few Sudanese pastors. Under indigenous leadership the church began to grow steadily and to expand to other parts of the country. To date it has 70 000 baptised believers, 154 congregations and 320 pastors (including 6 women trained in pastoral work but not yet ordained). The church is Trinitarian, confesses the divinity of Christ and accepts the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the absolute and final authority in all matters of faith and conduct. The Central Church Council declared its agreement with the WCC Basis on May 23rd, 1997.

The African Inland Church wishes to join the WCC to break out of its isolation, share a common ecumenical vision, enjoy the fellowship of worship and prayer, build capacity and develop human resources through exchange, exposure and formation. Together with the other churches in Sudan, the AIC is deeply involved in bringing relief to the displaced persons and other victims of the war in Sudan and in the efforts to bring peace and reconciliation. The church was visited by Rev. Yadessa Daba, President of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus and member of the Executive Committee, and Rev. Enock Tombe, General Secretary of the Sudan Council of Churches. They recommend that the church be received into membership.

The Africa Inland Church is a member of the Sudan Council of Churches, which supports its application for WCC membership.

Association des Eglises baptistes au Rwanda (Association of Baptist Churches in Rwanda)
The churches which form the Association of Baptist Churches in Rwanda came into being through the work of the Baptist Foreign Mission Society of the USA. The Association was founded in 1965. It has a membership of over 250 000 believers in 120 local churches and is served by 150 pastors. The church believes in the Holy Trinity and confesses Jesus Christ as God and Saviour. The Bible as the Holy Scripture is the source of all authority in faith and work. Each local church is responsible for administering the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. The General Assembly of the Association declared its agreement with the Basis of the WCC on 11th January 1999.

The decision to apply for WCC membership came as a result of the recognition and appreciation for the work done by the WCC after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and in the Great Lakes region. The Association is participating actively with other churches in efforts of reconciliation and rehabilitation. Other activities include education (42 primary and 14 secondary schools), health, rural development and vocational training. In the Theological Seminary, the Bible Institute and the three Bible Schools of the Association, 95 men and 48 women are training for the ministry (1999 statistics). The church was visited by Rev. André Karamaga, President of the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda and member of the Central Committee and Rev. Richard Murigande, WCC Africa Secretary and General Secretary of the Protestant Council of Rwanda. They fully support the application for WCC membership.

The Association of Baptist Churches in Rwanda is a member of the Protestant Council of Rwanda, the All Africa Conference of Churches and the Baptist World Alliance.

Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana
Finnish missionaries coming from Nigeria established a Lutheran Mission in Ghana in 1958. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana came into being as a result of their work . The church became autonomous in 1964. It has 25 655 baptised communicant members, served by 12 pastors and 50 evangelists (1998 statistics). The church accepts the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the only rule and norm of faith and practice, the Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasias Creeds, the Unaltered Augsburg Confession and the Large and Small Catechism of Luther. The church believes and teaches the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, and confesses God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Delegates Conference of the ELCG declared its agreement with the Basis of the WCC on 3rd December 1993.

The ELCG runs several schools, health centres and agricultural projects, and special programmes for the deaf and the blind. It has several hundred preaching stations in Ghana and has sent out missionaries to Uganda and Benin. In 1998 the church established its own Theological Seminary. The church was visited by Justice Mrs Sophia Adinyra, Vice-Moderator of the Central Committee and Mr. Baffour D. Amoa, General Secretary of the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa, who recommend that the ELCG be received into membership.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana is a member of the Christian Council of Ghana, the All Africa Conference of Churches, and the International Lutheran Council. It is not a member of the Lutheran World Federation but is part of the sub-regional body of Lutheran Churches in West Africa, which is related to the LWF. Recommendations have been received from the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, the Methodist Church-Ghana and the Christian Council of Ghana.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) grew out of the work of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission among the Ovambo and Kavango people in the north of what became in 1884 ‘German South West Africa’. Formerly known as the Evangelical Lutheran Ovambokavango Church (ELOC), the name was changed to ELCIN in 1984. Historically concentrated in the north, the church is now spreading to other parts of the country. Some years ago it was divided into two dioceses, each headed by a bishop.

The ELCIN has over 550 000 baptized members in 102 parishes. 143 pastors 86 deacons and 27 evangelists (1998 statistics) serve it. The church runs a range of activities: a printing press, a Christian education center, an institute for the training of deacons and lay preachers, a Bible school, two high schools, small community projects, nurseries, a rehabilitation center, a sewing workshop. The Lutheran Medical Services, under the supervision of ELCIN, is running a widespread health and medical service including primary health care and a large hospital. Over 5000 employed staff and volunteers are working in these institutions. Theological training takes place at the United Lutheran Theological Seminary in Windhoek, jointly owned by the ELCIN and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia.

The ELCIN has played a significant role in the resistance against the South African apartheid regime and the struggle for liberation and independence. A name to be mentioned in this regard is former Presiding Bishop Dr Kleopas Dumeni. Because of its geographical location close to the border with Angola the church found itself for many years in the middle of this war zone where the South African army opposed SWAPO and supported UNITA. Given this history, it is in a sense surprising that the ELCIN did not join the WCC much earlier. According to Presiding Bishop Kaulinge, one of the reasons was the fear to expose the church even more to the hostile attitude of the South African authorities. Bishop Kaulinge said that the ELCIN was convinced of its belonging to the worldwide ecumenical fellowship embodied in the WCC and that this was its main motivation for applying for membership.

The church was visited in July 2000 by a team composed of Rev. Charity Majiza-McKinty (former General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches), Rev. Nangula Kathindi (General Secretary of the Council of Churches in Namibia and former CC member) and Mr. Hubert van Beek. The team attended an ordination service of 16 new pastors (7 women, 9 men). This was a great event for the church, which struggles with a shortage of pastors.

The ELCIN is a founding member of the Council of Churches in Namibia and member of the Lutheran World Federation.

Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa
On 26 September 1999 the Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa and the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa celebrated their Act of Union, thereby constituting the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa.

The Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa has informed the WCC of this union and indicated its wish to continue the membership in the WCC which the former PCSA and RPCSA enjoyed until the time of the union.


Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches

The Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC) was formed in 1935 and became fully autonomous in 1969. Its origins go back to work of Baptist missionaries from Sweden. At a later stage, links were developed and maintained with the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society. Originally the missionary work of Baptists was confined to the Visayas region. While this is still the center of the CPBC the church has spread to the islands of Luzon and Mindanao and is now represented throughout the country. It has 100 000 baptized believers, 749 local churches and 600 pastors. Since 1979 the CPBC ordains women and almost half of the local churches are being led by women.

The Convention places particular emphasis on educational programmes. Its Christian Education Department has the task to help the churches develop a ministry through which “people and communities are continuously renewed, nurtured, transformed and empowered to faithfully participate in God’s redemptive acts towards a fuller manifestation of God’s reign”. Recently a Department for Theological Education and Ministerial Concerns was established to coordinate theological schools and Bible colleges and organize continuing education programmes for pastors. Another important area of activity is Development Ministries, which include URM work among mining communities, ecological programmes, work with indigenous peoples, adult literacy programmes and the support of work of cooperatives. The CPBC has also a Department for Evangelism and Missions, which conducts training for the churches to do evangelization and coordinates actions related to revival work.

The General Secretary of the WCC met with the leadership of the CPBC during his visit to the Philippines last March.

The Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches is a founding member of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and has been actively involved in ecumenical work. It is a member of the Christian Conference of Asia, the Asian Baptist Federation and the Baptist World Alliance.

Mara Evangelical Church, Myanmar

The Mara (formerly known as Lakher) are an ethnic group whose territory is situated on both sides of the border between India and Myanmar. In 1907 a British missionary couple began working among these people. Through their efforts and through the work of local evangelists and a series of revivals the entire Mara people were christianised by 1960. At the independence of India and Burma the Mara were separated in two groups. In 1967 the church was also organised in two entities: the Evangelical Church of Maraland in India (the larger one), and the Mara Independent Evangelical Church in Burma (now Myanmar). In 1970 a split occurred in the latter, which lasted sixteen years. The break was healed in 1987, with the pastoral help of the Myanmar Council of Churches. The two parts adopted a new name, Mara Evangelical Church, to signify their unity.

The MEC has 19180 members, in 97 congregations served by 50 pastors. The church "holds the faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of the world and worships one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit". It is ‘evangelical’ in outlook and strongly committed to a holistic ministry combining evangelism and fullness of life. The church is sending evangelists to work among neighbouring ethnic groups. The General Assembly declared its agreement with the Basis of the WCC on 12th March 1999.

The MEC is ordered according to Presbyterian principles. The ministries of elder and pastor have been traditionally reserved to men, but the church is now also encouraging women to assume these responsibilities.

Since about ten years several pastors of the MEC have been able to study in India, the UK and at Bossey. These contacts have led to a strong desire to be part of the ecumenical movement. The leaders wish to break the isolation of the church (it takes a week to travel from the capital Yangon to Maraland!). Their main motivation for asking to join the WCC is to experience oneness in Christ, to learn from other churches and to benefit from opportunities of education and training of leadership. The church was visited by Mrs. Woraporn Tharawanich of the Church of Christ in Thailand, member of the Central Committee, Bishop (Archbishop elect) Mahn San Si Htay, General Secretary of the Myanmar Council of Churches, and Mr. Hubert van Beek, WCC staff. The delegation is very much in favour of the application.

The Mara Evangelical Church is a member of the Myanmar Council of Churches, the Christian Conference of Asia and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. All three bodies are supporting the application to the WCC.


Ekalesia Niue
Missionaries brought Christianity to the Island of Niue in the middle of the 19th century, from Samoa and Niuean pioneers. Later on, the work was supported and consolidated by missionaries from the London Missionary Society. Known as the L.M.S. Church in Niue, the church became autonomous and took the name of Ekalesia Niue in 1970. The church has 1500 members, 13 congregations and 10 pastors and represents 75% of the total island population. It ministers also among the migrant community of around 4500 people from Niue in Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Work with young people, Christian education, communication and the training of laity are among the main activities of the Ekalesia Niue. There is a strong Federation of Christian Women, which includes also women from other denominations. The Ekalesia is ecumenically committed and active in the Pacific Conference of Churches. One of the main concerns the church is facing is the migration of people from the island to Aotearoa-New Zealand. This is related to questions of unemployment, low standards of education and the economic situation of Niue.

Rev. Valamotu Palu, General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, visited the Ekalesia Niue on behalf of the WCC.

The Ekalesia Niue is a member of the Niue National Council of Churches, the Pacific Conference of Churches, and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.


United Reformed Church
On 1 April 2000 the Congregational Union of Scotland united with the United Reformed Church in the United Kingdom to form the United Reformed Church (the Congregational Union of Scotland is listed in the WCC membership list under the name Scottish Congregational Church).

During the Unifying Assembly a resolution was passed to continue the membership in the WCC of the formerly separated churches and to request the WCC to take note of the union and to recognise the continuation in membership of the United Reformed Church.

II. Associate councils

Fédération des Eglises et Missions évangéliques du Cameroun (FEMEC)
The Federation of Protestant Churches and Missions in Cameroon was established in 1968. It has 10 member churches, including all 6 member churches of the WCC in Cameroon. The FEMEC has been a regular partner of the WCC since many years. Its Executive Committee decided in September 1999 to ask for recognition as an associate council with the World Council of Churches.

Fédération Protestante de France (French Protestant Federation)
The French Protestant Federation was formed in 1905. In the course of its existence, and particularly in the past few decades, it has become broadly representative of French Protestantism, including in its membership Evangelical, Baptist and Pentecostal churches besides the Reformed and Lutheran churches members of the WCC, and Protestant associations involved with mission, development, diaconia, communication, education, youth etc. The primary vocation of the Federation is to promote the togetherness of its members, to coordinate their actions and to represent French Protestantism to the government, in the public arena and in the media. While the member churches and associations respect the differences among them, all share the commitment to common witness, recognize the centrality of salvation by grace and practice eucharistic hospitality. The French Protestant Federation has been the main ecumenical partner of the WCC in France for many years. It has now expressed the wish to affirm this relationship by becoming an associate council.

Malawi Council of Churches
The Malawi Council of Churches was constituted in 1942 as an ecumenical organisation of churches founded by western mission societies. It currently comprises 19 member churches, including two Anglican dioceses and the African Methodist Episcopal Church which are part of the WCC. The Council has also 12 affiliated bodies. The Malawi Council of Churches played a pivotal role in the democratisation process in Malawi 1990-94, but became defunct from 1994 to 1997. A concerted effort is under way to revive the Council. The application to become an associate council with the WCC is part of this process.

National Council of Churches of Burundi
As many other NCCs in Africa, the origin of the National Council of Churches of Burundi goes back to the time of the mission societies which created in 1935 the Alliance of Protestant Churches of Rwanda-Burundi. At the time of independence in 1962 Rwanda and Burundi became two separate countries, each with its own Alliance of Protestant Churches. In 1987 the Alliance in Burundi was officially changed into a National Council of Churches in order to incorporate all denominations which would want to join. Currently it has ten member churches: Free Methodist, United Methodist, Baptist, Quakers, Kimbanguist and 5 Dioceses of the Anglican Church.

There has been a long-standing working relationship between the former Alliance, now National Council of Burundi and the WCC. The NCCB wants to further strengthen this relationship through the status of associate council.

III. International ecumenical organizations

Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe
Founded in 1964 with the assistance of the WCC, the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) is an organization of churches and ecumenical councils from 14 countries in Europe. Its mandate is to cooperate with its members, the WCC, the Conference of European Churches and other ecumenical and church bodies in the areas of migration, asylum and anti-racism. The CCME is involved in coordination of activities, awareness building, training and capacity building, and represents its members in international fora such as the European Union, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. In January 2000 the CCME, CEC and WCC signed an "Agreement of Co-operation" formalizing the working relationships between the three bodies. Further to this agreement the Executive Committee of the CCME decided to apply for the status of "International Ecumenical Organization in Working Relationship with the WCC". The letter of application underlines that the CCME is in consistency with the purposes and functions of the WCC and acknowledges the Basis.

Ecumenical Youth Council in Europe
The roots of the Ecumenical Youth Council in Europe (EYCE) go back to just after World War II when the WCC in formation began organizing annual meetings for those responsible for ecumenical youth work in Europe. In 1968 these youth leaders decided to form their own organization. The EYCE is made up of national ecumenical or denominational youth councils and bodies which share a common task of « initiating and furthering the commitment of young people to Jesus Christ and His desire for reconciliation, justice and a lasting peace in Europe and the world » (from the Constitution). In order to achieve this goal the EYCE organizes seminars and training events on themes important for young people and facilitates the sharing of information on activities of its national member bodies, such as youth camps, conferences etc. The EYCE also fulfils an important function of representation and networking with other ecumenical organizations and European youth structures, and is working closely with the WCC and the Conference of European Churches. The Basis of the EYCE is derived from the Basis of the WCC and its purposes and functions are consistent with those of the Council.

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