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Sunday, 30 November 2014


The word Ecumenism is derived from Greek oikoumene, which means "the whole inhabited world", and was historically used with specific reference to the Roman Empire.

The Edinburgh World Missionary Conference linking Protestant missions held in 1910 was the precursor of the ecumenical movement. Chaired by John Mott, over 1,000 delegates from many different denominations met together at this momentous conference.
At this time this was a rare meeting of Christians from different traditions, however for a number of years there had been a steadily increasing wish among many to reclaim their shared denominational heritage.
Already there had been signs of unity such as the formation of the Free Church Council in England in 1892 and the interdenominational Gideon movement in the United States. When John Mott solemnly declared to the delegates how startling it was that at his point in “ the Great Command of Jesus Christ to carry the Gospel to all mankind is still so largely unfulfilled”, the need for denominational barriers to come down became even more apparent.

Two early ecumenical initiatives were the Conferences on Life and Work, which came from the concept of churches uniting in service to the world and the Faith and Order movement, which held conferences in Lausanne in 1927 and Edinburgh in 1937.

In 1937 the two movements agreed to merge to form the World Council of Churches. Though its establishment was delayed by World War II, in 1948 the World Council of Churches was founded at Amsterdam. It reflected the post-World War II, desire for peace and harmony among the nations.

In 1959 Pope John XXIII met for about an hour with the Church of England Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher. It was the first time in over 400 years, since the excommunication of Elizabeth I, that the Archbishop of Canterbury had met with the Pope.

In 1965 the Orthodox Eastern Church and the Western Catholic Church agreed to retract the excommunications cast on each other in 1054 which formalized the Great Schism.

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