The World Council of Churches (WCC) has revealed plans to extend celebrations and events for its 50th anniversary next year and for its 330-plus member Churches to renew their commitment to ecumenism.
Under the new plans announced last week the celebrations will begin on 19 and 20 September 1998 in Amsterdam, the city which hosted the WCC's inaugural assembly in 1948, with a special event to celebrate the 50 years of the WCC.
It had originally been intended to hold a 50th anniversary celebration and recommitment service on Saturday, 19 September in Harare, Zimbabwe, as part of the WCC's eighth assembly. But earlier this year the dates for the assembly were changed to 3-14 December 1998 to fit in with the academic year at the University of Zimbabwe where the assembly is to be held.
The Harare assembly in December 1998, which will also include a "recommitment" ceremony, will mark the culmination of the celebrations.
According to the new plans, Dutch Churches, and their main national ecumenical organisation, the Council of Churches in the Netherlands, will hold a "Recommitment Day" celebration on 20 September, enabling local Churches to "recommit" themselves to the WCC and to ecumenism. (In the 49 years since its foundation, Dutch Protestant Churches have been among the strongest and most generous supporters of the WCC.) Other WCC member Churches around the world will be encouraged to hold a recommitment day for their own congregations on that day or in the period up to and including the recommitment day at the assembly, on 13 December 1998.