In 1961, a Time cover story declared that the “ecumenical century” was at hand. Pope John XXIII’s “ecumenical council”—aka Vatican II—was forthcoming, while the National Council of Churches had made progress in the United States. And in New Delhi, the World Council of Churches held its third assembly—with the full participation of many Orthodox churches, nearly all of which by then had officially joined the WCC. Time optimistically claimed that “the scattered forces of Christian faith are realigning and regrouping.”
The New Delhi assembly adopted a statement on unity. The statement, which was shaped by the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission meeting the previous year, emphasized that unity needed to be pursued both in local settings and at a global level:
Wesley Granberg-Michaelson’s most recent book is From Times Square to Timbuktu: The Post-Christian West Meets the Non-Western Church. He served for 17 years as the general secretary of the Reformed Church in America and has been active in several ecumenical initiatives, including Christian Churches Together in the USA and the Global Christian Forum.