Canadian Council of Churches marks 60 years of ecumenism

By on May 1, 2004

The Canadian Council of Churches – the nation’s largest ecumenical grouping of Christian denominations – marks the 60th anniversary of its founding this year with a commemorative service in Toronto and a discussion forum in Ottawa.

The ecumenical service will take place Thursday, May 13 at Yorkminster Park Baptist church, Toronto, the location of the council’s first worship service at its founding in 1944. A forum on ecumenical dialogue will take place Oct. 4 in Ottawa. (More information is available on the CCC’s Web site, www.ccc-cce.ca)

Among its recent work, the CCC sponsored an ecumenical service of “prayer, music and light in defiance of darkness” at St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Toronto in March 2003 when the war in Iraq began. This year, the CCC sponsored a consultation with churches from Canada, the U.S., Mexico and other countries addressing globalization. They pledged to co-operate ecumenically for fair and just trade agreements and an economy that “serves life.” Last year, leaders of CCC member churches signed an open letter condemning anti-Semitism.

The council began in the waning years of the Second World War, “when people worldwide longed to find ways of co-operating,” according to the CCC’s background paper on its history. “This period saw the drafting of the charter of the United Nations and the founding of the World Council of Churches … Canadian churches had already been cooperating through bodies related to social service, religious education, evangelism and overseas mission,” it said.

The Anglican Church of Canada was among the 10 inaugural members. Today, there are 19 member churches and the CCC’s commission on faith and witness liaises with Jewish and Muslim groups. Roman Catholics have been represented on the council since the mid-1990s by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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