Vision & Mission
Reconfiguration of the Ecumenical Movement
Mapping the Configuration
The story of ecumenical movement is the story of Christian Family consisting of two billion Christian people of the world. It is estimated that half of the Christian population is Roman Catholic. The World Council of Churches (WCC) is considered the most comprehensive and representative church body bringing together another 550 million people who belong to the 342 member churches or denominations in 120 countries. The WCC programmes relate to the Council's five "historic" themes: Faith and Order; Mission and Ecumenical Formation; Justice, Peace and Creation; International Affairs, Peace and Human Security; and Diakonia and Solidarity. While the Roman Catholic Church is not a member of the WCC, it is a member of the Council's Faith and Order Commission. The remaining quarter is made up of a diverse group of churches. Some belong to a confessional family such as the Lutheran World Federation or Baptist World Alliance but not to WCC because they may be too small or for other reasons such as perceiving WCC as being too liberal theologically. Others will refer themselves as Evangelical or Pentecostal. Some may have links to a global body such as the World Evangelical Alliance whereas others will be independent, individual churches with no formal ties to any other body. The Christian family is a long way from finding unity. If we look at the national level, almost every country in the world has a myriad of churches of various denominations.
Despite this, churches have come together in over 100 countries to form a National Council of Churches or National Christian Council - what we commonly call NCCs. These Councils were formed mostly in the 1940s and 1950s with encouragement from the WCC. The founding members were usually churches of the Anglican or Reformed tradition and Orthodox churches joined in later. Following the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, the Roman Catholic Church also joined NCCs in some countries. Roman Catholic membership has been accompanied by a radical restructuring of the ecumenical body - usually with a greater emphasis on it being a ‘council of churches' that only speaks if there is consensus amongst all churches rather than it being a separate ecumenical organization.
The National Council of Churches in India is the Ecumenical Forum of the Protestant and Orthodox Churches in India . The Council was established in 1914 as the National Missionary Council. In 1923, the Council constituted itself as the National Christian Council of India , Burma and Ceylon . The Councils of Burma and Sri Lanka separated and in 1979 the Council transformed itself into what is known as the National Council of Churches in India . It is an Inter-confessional autonomous Council and an ecumenical expression constantly initiating, promoting and coordinating various forms of ministries of Witness and Service in the wider community and society. The Council also serves as a common platform for thought and action and as such it brings together the Churches and other Christian organizations for mutual consultation, assistance and action in all matters related to the life and witness of the Churches in India . The NCCI is committed to the Gospel values of Justice & Peace.
The NCCI is made up of twenty-nine Member Churches , fourteen Regional Councils, fourteen All India Organizations and seven Related Agencies. The member churches and the regional councils are the primary members of the council. The Assembly that is the supreme body meets every four years. The Executive Committee meets annually to oversee the work of the Council and also appoints the Working Committee which meets twice in a year to guide and monitor its activities. The existing Program Structure is envisaged in the following Diagram:
These agencies are particularly significant in that, together, they fund a large proportion of the diaconal work undertaken in the ecumenical movement and many of the ecumenical organizations. Alongside the WCC, they probably have the strongest network of relationships with other actors in the ecumenical movement. While these agencies work with partners in many countries of the world, they are ‘National Organizations' - with most of their support coming from either private donations or their national government, their governance structures usually comprising representatives from member churches, and part of their role being to enable churches in their country to respond to global poverty and injustice. Ecumenical development and relief agencies have also been established by National Councils of Churches, for example, CASA in India . We find the Regional Ecumenical Organizations (REOs) such as: All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC), Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), Conference of European Churches (CEC), Latin America Council of Churches (CLAI), Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC). WCC also initiated South Asia Ecumenical Partnership Programme (SAEPP) as part of the Global ecumenical family's commitment to develop decentralized capacities for sharing and solidarity. The object is to promote coordination, cooperation and closer linkage among churches, NCCs ecumenical partners in South Asia Region to facilitate more effectively ecumenical responses to the pressing issues and needs.In many countries there are a range of specialist ecumenical organizations besides the NCC. Many churches have created agencies or organizations that focus on a particular area and these may range from broadcasting to development. Each of us gathered here can probably list the name of some organizations that have developed in our country - all undertaking work on behalf of the churches and in most cases, being governed by representatives from the churches. There are organizations like the YMCA, YWCA, and Bible Society which predate the formation of the NCC and they are associate members or related bodies of the NCC. In many countries, relief and development agencies have been established while others are departments of a single national church. Some refer to themselves as specialized ministries while others call themselves agencies, each has a mandate to respond to human suffering around the world, including, through development programmes, emergency relief, and advocacy work: Ecumenical News International, ACT International and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.
There are Christian World Communions, not strictly ecumenical bodies, but they nonetheless play an important role in the ecumenical movement. Christian World Communions are global bodies of a certain denomination, such as the Lutheran World Federation or the Disciples Ecumenical Consultative Council, who generally have the task of strengthening the unity of that tradition and relating to other Christian communions. There is a huge difference between the Christian World Communions. The three largest, the LWF, Anglican Communion and WARC each represent about 65-75 million Christians whereas the Church of the Brethren have less that 500,000 members. Another global body is the World Evangelical Alliance that has its roots in the mid 19th century and is a network of 7 regional and 123 National Evangelical Alliances and over 100 special ministries. The WEA aims to foster unity and provide a worldwide identity and voice to evangelical churches and Christians.