World Council of Churches celebrates 70 years of worldwide ecumenism

‘Birthday greetings have reached the WCC from all over the world’

With a festive service in the historical Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam the World Council of Churches (WCC) today celebrates its 70th anniversary and returns to the place where it was founded.

Attending the anniversary celebration is Norwegian pastor Olav Fykse Tveit, the WCC general secretary, and Agnes Abuom from the Anglican Church of Kenya, who chairs the WCC Central Committee. In addition, there are numerous representatives from the international ecumenical movement. The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) is represented by Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chair of the EKD Council.

‘Birthday greetings have reached the WCC from all over the world, e.g. from the Taizé Community, from representatives of other Christian world families and national councils of churches, from India, from the Russian Orthodox Church, from Canada and many other countries,’ says Petra Bosse-Huber, EKD bishop for ecumenical relations and chair of the WCC’s Programme Committee.

A Walk of Peace is planned through Amsterdam and a symposium on the topic ‘Hospitality on a pilgrim’s way to peace and justice’ at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on the same day.

The WCC, its member churches and its partners plan a host of events in the anniversary year, which are to be held during the ongoing pilgrimage of justice and peace.

Bosse-Huber adds: ‘Many initiatives have grown out of participation in the WCC and are taken forward today in numerous parishes and church districts. One example is Oikocredit, that promotes ethical investment aiming for more justice and ultimately also peace.’

Another example is the currently ongoing pilgrimage of justice and peace, in the context of which the 3rd Ecumenical Pilgrimage for Climate Justice will leave from Bonn, Germany, for Katowice, Poland, in time for the UN climate conference COP 24. The pilgrims will be given a send-off at an ecumenical service on 9 September.

More events and services will take place over the year in other EKD member churches.


The WCC, based in Geneva, was founded on 23 August 1948 in Amsterdam and has since then been the central organisation of the ecumenical movement. It has 350 member churches in over 120 countries on all continents and represents over half a billion Christians.

The WCC consists of churches or associations of churches who agree to its Basis, are formally admitted as members and continue in membership.

The address of the EKD Council chair is available as of the commencement of the reception (4:00 p.m.) for download. The service is livestreamed.

Hannover, 23 August 2018

EKD Press Office

Kerstin Kipp