The WCC Assembly is the highest governing body of the World Council of Churches (WCC), and normally meets every eight years. It is the only time when the entire fellowship of member churches comes together in one place for prayer and celebration.
A WCC Assembly is a special time in the lives of member churches, ecumenical partners, and other churches, as it brings together more than 4000 participants, from all over the world. It is a unique opportunity for the churches to deepen their commitment to visible unity and common witness. This makes a WCC Assembly the most diverse Christian gathering of its size in the world.
The WCC 11th Assembly will take place in Karlsruhe, Germany, at the joint invitation of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), the Protestant Church in Baden, the Council of Churches in Germany, the Union of Protestant Churches in Alsace and Lorraine (UEPAL), and the Protestant Church in Switzerland.
A WCC Assembly in Germany
The WCC accepted the invitation of the member churches in Germany to hold the 11th assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany. The last assembly in Europe took place in Uppsala, Sweden, in 1968.
The city of Karlsruhe is in Baden in southwest Germany, an historical and cultural “trans-border-region”. Karlsruhe is the second-largest city of the state of Baden-Württemberg. The main venue for the assembly will be the Messe-Karlsruhe (www.messe-karlsruhe.de/en), located in the heart of the city.
The local hosting church, the Protestant Church in Baden, became a united church by petition of the people in 1821. The 200-year anniversary of the unification of the church was celebrated in 2021.
A WCC Assembly in Europe
After World War II and with the changes in the geopolitical situation brought about by decolonization a new reality of a mainly western European entity developed. At the same time, the opposition between the Soviet Union and the western powers caused the division of the continent in East and West, which lasted until the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. The European churches in the ecumenical movement and the WCC have always endeavoured to maintain and to nurture a sense of unity across the divide of the Cold War. This was also one of the main functions of the regional ecumenical organization created by the churches of Europe in 1959, the Conference of European Churches (CEC).
The geographical spread of the European region in the WCC and the ecumenical movement coincides for the most part with the political understanding of Europe stretching from the Urals to the Atlantic. On the southern side the countries of the Caucasus are included but not Cyprus which is grouped with the Middle East. Sub-regional affinities are fairly strong: the Nordic region (the Scandinavian countries plus Finland and the Baltics), Central Europe, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Southern Europe.
The Protestant churches in western and southern Europe have formed a sub-regional conference. To some extent, there is also a sub-regional confessional pattern: the large churches of the Reformation (Protestant and Anglican) are mostly in the west and north, the Catholic Church is in a majority position in the south (and in Poland), the Orthodox churches form the majority in the central and eastern parts of Europe. The churches of the Protestant Reformation (Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist) are in full communion through the Leuenberg Agreement and have formed the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe. The Anglican and (episcopal) Lutheran churches in Great Britain and the Nordic countries (with the exception of Denmark) have also signed an agreement of full communion (Porvoo). There are 81 WCC member churches in Europe.
WCC member churches in Europe
Conference of European Churches
WCC Member Churches in Germany