The so-called “Ecumenical Movement” began with the 1910 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, at which various Protestant churches discussed the difficulties on the mission field which were caused by the divisions among the Protestant churches. A desire for unity was in the air, and in 1920, Ecumenical Patriarch Germanus V wrote an encyclical “to the Churches of Christ Everywhere,” proposing a forum and fellowship for the churches similar to the League of Nations. The divisions characterizing the Christian world were felt to be a scandal, and an impediment to the Christian effort to convert the world.
Eventually, the World Council of Churches (or the WCC) would be formed in 1948 with a view to finding unity among the churches confessing a belief in the Trinity. Its stated aim was to be “a community of churches on the way to visible unity in one faith and one eucharistic fellowship, expressed in worship and in common life in Christ. It seeks to advance towards this unity, as Jesus prayed for his followers, “so that the world may believe” (John 17:21).1
Orthodox involvement in the ecumenical movement has proven to be very controversial among some. Nonetheless, dialogues and conversations continue to be held at an official level, though these arguably have little effect on the day-to-day life of anyone involved in the dialogues. The Orthodox Church continues to maintain, even through its involvement in such dialogues, that it is the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, and all other non-Orthodox bodies are separated from it.
The World Council of Churches, “What is the World Council of Churches? (opens in a new tab)” Accessed 10/10 2022. ↩