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date: 24 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter details the evolution of the constituent bodies of the World Council of Churches in the period between 1910 and the Council’s formal organization in 1948. It shows how these constitutive components (the International Missionary Council, the Faith and Order movement, and the Life and Work movement) grew originally from Protestant postmillennial optimism at the start of the twentieth century and evolved in the wake of the First World War, the rise of the Soviet state, the global economic depression of the 1930s, the rise of German National Socialism, the Second World War, and the destruction that the war brought about. All of these factors made ecumenical engagement utterly urgent in the eyes of the leaders of the ecumenical movement. The chapter also shows how Eastern Orthodox churches and representatives of the Catholic Church, even prior to the Second Vatican Council, became engaged at varying levels with ecumenical work.

Keywords: Faith and Order, International Missionary Council, Life and Work, World Council of Churches, modernism, postmillennialism, Nathan Söderblom, Willem A. Visser ’t Hooft, John R. Mott

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