The WCC brings together 349 churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 560 million Christians and including most of the world’s Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches. While the bulk of the WCC’s founding churches were European and North American, today most member churches are in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland.
Since 1957, with a few exceptions (1960, 1961, and 1975), the annual Conference of Secretaries of World Christian Communions brings together representatives from diverse Christian traditions to discuss their work and fellowship together. As general secretaries, participants are often the global face of a particular Christian theological tradition. A representative from the World Council of Churches is often present, as well.
The Global Christian Forum seeks to offer new opportunities for broadening and deepening encounters. It is especially intended to promote new relationships between and among Christian constituencies : 1) which have not been in conversation with one another; 2) who are in conversation with only a select group of partners or 3) who have engaged in existing ecumenical relationships. The Global Christian Forum is pursuing this goal through the creation of a ‘space’ where participants all meet on an equal basis, to foster mutual respect, and to explore and address together common concern.
In July 1974 some 2,700 participants and guests from over 150 nations gathered in Lausanne Switzerland, for ten days of discussion, fellowship, worship and prayer. Given the range of nationalities, ethnicities, ages, occupations and church affiliations, TIME Magazine described it as ‘a formidable forum, possibly the widest ranging meeting of Christians ever held’. This gathering sparked a worldwide movement to reevaluate and re-energize Christian evangelism. The most recent convening of the movement was in Cape Town, South Africa in 2010.