"A Bold Enterprise" The Ecumenical Review and the Beginnings of the World Council of Churches.
In the week before the founding assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Amsterdam in 1948, the Ecumenical Press Service reported the imminent appearance of the first issue of The Ecumenical Review as a quarterly published under the auspices of the WCC, with the organization's first general secretary, Willem A. Visser't Hooft, as editor, and Bishop Yngve Brilioth of the Church of Sweden as chair of the editorial board. (1)
"This Review is not an end in itself," Visser 't Hooft wrote in the opening editorial, which is reproduced after this article. "Its one and only purpose is to help in the creation of true fellowship between the Churches. It is an instrument to be used by the Churches in order to give substance and reality to the new relationships between them which are implied in their participation in the World Council of Churches." (2) For several centuries the churches had not been on speaking terms with each other, he wrote, either ignoring each other or speaking against each other. Through the various pioneering movements of the 19th century and especially the ecumenical movement of the 20th century, however, individual leaders and members of different churches had learned to overcome this estrangement and enter into "ecumenical conversation" with each other. "Yet the Churches as such," he continued, "have not yet participated in this conversation. The launching of the World Council means that in principle they now agree to listen and to speak to each other." (3)
A truly ecumenical conversation between churches, according to Visser 't Hooft, "is a conversation about the truth of God and His purpose for men [sic]." This meant, he continued, transcending the rules of diplomacy and politeness that applied in the dealings between states: "We hope, therefore that the pages of this review will reflect that common struggle for that truth which transcends all Churches and all men [sic]. We therefore ask our readers not merely to tolerate but to welcome uncompromising frankness of speech, even if at first reading it may hurt." Churches, Visser 't Hooft wrote, could not afford to deal with each other on any lower plane than the plane of truth. "How then can we ever hope to come closer to each other, if we do not say to each other openly what we believe?" The journal should not be seen only as a record of the ecumenical movement, "but as a common spiritual adventure, leading to unexpected and surprising discoveries." (4)
The journal, he underlined, would reflect the "weaknesses of the ecumenical movement"--weak in that it appeared as a movement of disharmony and inner contradictions, and lacking a clearly defined theology. The ecumenical movement was not a "finished product," but a "meeting place of theologies and no one can know beforehand to what degree an 'ecumenical theology' will emerge as a result of the conversation, or what its content may be." (5) At the same time, the journal should reflect the "true strength" of the ecumenical movement, found in the fact that it was a "humble movement," of those who stretch out their hands to receive from God a fuller knowledge of God's truth and a fuller manifestation of God's church. (6)
In the article that opened the first issue of the journal, "A New Beginning," Bishop Brilioth wrote that like the World Council itself, The Ecumenical Review was "a new beginning, building on the experience of the past." (7) The task of the journal was to be the continuous record of the WCC's history, but also a place for ecumenical discussion, "a permanent 'conference' for questions of Faith and Order as well as of Life and Work, and transcending both for the evangelistic and missionary activity of the Church." (8) Reviewing the history of various church and Christian periodicals in the 20th century, Brilioth wrote that while "the whole periodical literature of Christendom has an ecumenical importance, and is gradually paying a greater attention to problems of unity... the need of a central journal has become more and more apparent. The Ecumenical Review is a necessary, yet a bold enterprise." (9)
Koinonia: A Journal for the Ecumenical Movement
This stress on the need of a "central journal" for the nascent ecumenical movement went back more than ten years, to the efforts to bring together the two large-scale movements promoting joint reflection and action by churches--the Faith and Order movement, which held its first world conference in Lausanne in 1927, and the movement for Life and Work, which had found expression in the Stockholm conference of 1925. The Ecumenical Patriarchate had already issued a call in 1920 for a Koinonia ("league" or "fellowship") of churches, and there had been repeated demands for a council of churches for which the churches would be directly responsible. Nevertheless, "so long as there were in existence several different and independent ecumenical bodies [the idea] seemed impossible of realization," according to Visser 't Hooft in the first volume of A History of the Ecumenical Movement. (10) The planned holding in 1937 of world conferences on Life and Work (in Oxford) and on Faith and Order (in Edinburgh) offered an opportunity to bring together the two movements. In 1936, the committees of the two movements agreed to set up a committee--which became known as the "Committee of Thirty-Five"--to produce recommendations to the conferences in Oxford (12-26 July 1937) and Edinburgh (3-18 August 1937). The committee proposed the formation of a "World Council of Churches" providing for the integration of the two movements for Faith and Order and Life and Work, which would, according to the Archbishop of York, William Temple, provide "a voice for non-Roman Christendom." (11) Among the seven tasks the committee identified for the projected World Council was that it should "consider the establishment of an oecumenical Journal." (12) Despite some reservations, particularly at the Edinburgh conference (which required the completed plan to be submitted to the Faith and Order continuation committee), the proposal to create a World Council was approved by the two conferences. Separately, the Edinburgh conference underlined the need for current ecumenical developments to receive more attention in the religious and the secular press and approved the proposal, "already discussed in several quarters," for "an authoritative, Christian, oecumenical review... preferably under the auspices of such oecumenical Church organization as may follow the Oxford and Edinburgh Conferences." (13)
The approval of the proposal to create a World Council led to the creation of a new "Committee of Fourteen" with seven representatives (and seven alternates) from each movement to implement the decision. (14) This led to the holding of a special conference in Utrecht, in May 1938, which agreed the constitution of a World Council of Churches as a "fellowship of Churches which accept our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour," (15) and set up a provisional committee chaired by the Archbishop of York and with Visser 't Hooft as general secretary. A memorandum on ecumenical education presented to the Utrecht conference by Henry-Louis Henriod stated that an "ecumenical magazine, (probably in English with occasional articles in other languages), is highly desirable, and could serve a wide constituency of intelligent readers." (16)
At its second full meeting at St Germain-en-Laye in January 1939 (the first took place immediately after the Utrecht conference), the provisional committee decided that the WCC's founding assembly would take place--provisionally--in August 1941. At the meeting, Visser 't Hooft also presented a detailed memorandum outlining the need for an ecumenical journal. (17) While there existed a number of magazines dealing with ecumenical problems, the memorandum stated, none was ecumenical "in the fullest sense of the term." This underlined the need for "a journal the scope of which should be as large as the ecumenical movement... an organ which should further the discussion between all Groups and groups of Churches which will collaborate in the World Council of Churches... to be fully ecumenical in its choice of topics, in its choice of authors and in its editorial policy, and to specialise therefore on the main common issues which confront the Christian Church as well as on the major differences which exist between the various confessions and theological movements." (18) Such a publication would not take the place of any of the existing publications, "for the latter would continue to perform the function of platforms for the discussion between particular sections of the whole movement or for special aspects of ecumenical life." (19)
The journal should be published as a quarterly, and until it was established "on a strong financial basis," would be made up of 96 pages, including 20 pages of "Chronicles," surveying important developments in the life of the ecumenical movement, and 11 pages of book reviews. It should be a platform "on which the main great streams of theology meet on equal terms," (20) while, as far as languages were concerned, the "best policy" would be to begin with an English edition, "and to bring out German and French editions as soon as the English edition has become fully self-supporting." Editorial responsibility would be in the hands of a small board of editors, and while the journal should be published under the auspices of the provisional committee, "it should be made clear that the Committee does not accept responsibility for statements made in signed articles." (21) As far as the name for the journal was concerned, it was proposed, unless a better name suggested itself to the provisional committee, that it be called simply The Ecumenical Journal, which would "express simply and clearly what the journal intends to be." The main lines of what would become The Ecumenical Review, and which continue to the present day, were thus already established eight decades ago.
The proposal was referred to a sub-committee chaired by William Paton that proposed that publication should begin early in 1940, that the journal should "serve as a means for furthering discussion on "a fully ecumenical and international scale," and contain both "material of general ecumenical interest and material growing out of the study work of Life and Work and Faith and Order," with Visser 't Hooft as editor. The title of the journal, the sub-committee recommended, should be Koinonia: Record of Ecumenical Thought and Progress. (22)
In May 1939, Visser 't Hooft wrote to the proposed members of the editorial board asking their agreement to join the board--whose main tasks would "generally be done by correspondence, though it may be possible to hold occasional meetings"--and setting out his proposals for themes for the first issues of Koinonia: The Future of the Ecumenical Movement ("a symposium on the question on which direction we are to move forward"); The Ethical Function of the Church ("one of the 'Life and Work' study projects"); the Bible and Tradition ("a subject of great significance for the further discussions in the realm of 'Faith and Order'"); Christianity and International Law ("what can the Churches do to create the ethos without which no international law is possible?"); and an Annual Survey of Ecumenical Affairs. (23) With the letter, Visser't Hooft attached a revised version of the memorandum presented to the meeting of the provisional committee, with the journal now explicitly titled Koinonia. The proposals made by Visser 't Hooft both illustrate his ambition to encompass the breadth of issues being dealt with by the ecumenical movement and his desire to transcend the confessional traditions that made up the WCC in process of formation: among the names proposed to take part in the symposium proposed for the first issue on the future of the ecumenical movement was that of the French Roman Catholic Dominican theologian Yves Congar. (24)
At the meeting of the administrative committee that followed in July 1939 in Zeist, Netherlands, it was reported that all those approached had agreed to serve on the board of Koinonia, with the names of the Rev. C. G. Baeta (Gold Coast), Mr G. Baez Camargo (Mexico), and Dr R. B. Manikam (India) added to the editorial board. The committee was also informed of the proposed subjects for the first four issues in 1940 as set out by Visser 't Hooft in his letter to the editorial board. (25) This decision was a demonstration of the confidence that still existed, despite the deteriorating international situation, that it would prove possible to move ahead with publication. By the time of the following meeting of the administrative committee in January 1940, however, it was decided that the launch of Koinonia would need to be postponed "in view of the very great difficulty to launch a new magazine in time of war." (26)
The Role and Place of Christendom
In setting out the need for an ecumenical journal published under the auspices of the WCC, the memorandum at St. Germain-en-Laye in 1939 included a review of existing journals that touched on ecumenical issues from a confessional standpoint, such as Sobornost, on relations between Anglicans and Orthodox; from a regional perspective, such as Kristengemenskap, published by the ecumenical movement in Scandinavia; those intended for a particular age group, such as The Student World, produced by the World Student Christian Federation; or those with a particular aspect of the common task of churches, such as the International Review of Missions, published by the International Missionary Council. The memorandum also made reference, however, to Christendom, by then published by the American Joint Executive Committee of Life and Work and Faith and Order. (27) This relationship between the projected ecumenical journal and Christendom would be one that would occupy the protagonists until after the formal launch of The Ecumenical Review in 1948.
Christendom had been launched in October 1935 as a quarterly published by Willett, Clark & Company as the continuation and successor of The Christian Union Quarterly, left without an editor after the death of its founder, Peter Ainslie, of the Disciples of Christ and a pioneer of the Faith and Order movement. In a foreword to the first issue of Christendom, Charles Clayton Morrison, editor of The Christian Century and described as editor "Pro Tempore" of Christendom (though his editorial responsibilities would in fact continue until 1938), described the journal as "an expression of the new creative era in world culture into which, despite powerful counter currents, the broad stream of human life is moving." (28) While the journal had no denominational or ecclesiastical affiliation, it held that "there is an organic relation between our dismembered civilization and our dismembered Christian church, and that the unity of civilization requires the attainment of not only a degree but a kind of church unity which neither Protestantism nor Catholicism has yet exemplified." (29) Underlining this point, the issue opened with an article by the Archbishop of York, William Temple, entitled "The Restoration of Christendom," and the journal continued to publish, alongside articles of a more general religious and cultural nature, articles related to the ecumenical movement. (30)
In September 1938, John R. Mott, the long-standing ecumenical pioneer (and a member of the provisional committee appointed at Utrecht) formally announced to the joint meeting of the American sections of Faith and Order and Life and Work that the publishers of Christendom had offered the journal to the proposed World Council of Churches. This gift, he stated, would answer "most providentially the long-standing need of a truly ecumenical periodical." The joint executive committee had acted without hesitation in accepting the gift, subject to the approval of the joint meeting, and Mott underlined "the importance of such a publication in bringing the idea of a World Council as a living reality to leading minds, both lay and clerical, throughout the church world." (31) Readers were informed in an announcement published in the final issue of 1938 that the journal would now become "the property of the World Council of Churches in process of formation, and will henceforth be conducted as the organ of the ecumenical movement throughout the Christian world" (32) Pending the definitive formation of the WCC, the magazine would be published by the American section of the interim organization created by the Oxford and Edinburgh conferences. (33) In an accompanying letter published in the journal, Mott wrote that Christendom "will inevitably become a most potent factor in furthering the realization of the statesmanlike plan launched a few months ago at Oxford and Edinburgh." (34) The first issue of Christendom published in early 1939, now edited by H. Paul Douglass and with the subtitle "An Ecumenical Review," included an impressive list of those who had agreed to serve as "foreign collaborators," including Archbishop William Temple, J. H. Oldham, Bishop Yngve Brilioth, and Willem Visser 't Hooft, and included an article by Visser 't Hooft himself. At least according to the announcement of the publishers, it appears that the intention was for Christendom to become a journal for the WCC as a whole. It was reported, however, to the continuation committee of the World Conference on Faith and Order in September 1939, that in "assuming responsibility for Christendom, the Joint Executive Committee [in the United States] has no intention of usurping the field of an international review; its only purpose is to interpret the ecumenical movement to America, and to provide an organ for the expression of American opinion." (35)
There were now, it seemed, two initiatives, one on each side of the Atlantic, for an ecumenical journal in support of the WCC: Christendom, now published by the American sections of Life and Work and Faith and Order, and that of the provisional committee to create a journal titled Koinonia edited by Visser 't Hooft. Meanwhile, the meeting of the administrative committee in January 1940 that decided to postpone the launch of Koinonia also agreed that "an approach should be made to the Editors of'Christendom' to consider in what way that magazine might render service to the Ecumenical Movement as a whole." (36) The nature of the precise relationship between Christendom and the projected WCC journal would continue to be discussed over the next decade until the appearance of The Ecumenical Review shortly before the Amsterdam assembly in 1948.
Following the outbreak of the Second World War, plans for a founding assembly of the WCC in 1941 were cancelled. It proved impossible for the World Council "to act normally through its responsible committees," and instead members of the provisional committee gathered in three groups--one in Geneva, one in Britain, and one in New York. (37) During the weeks immediately before and after the end of hostilities in Europe in 1945, groups of members of the provisional committee had meetings in London and New York. A European delegation, made up of the French Protestant leader Marc Boegner, the Bishop of Chichester, George Bell, and Willem Visser 't Hooft attended the meeting of the North American members of the provisional committee in New York on 18 May 1945. During the meeting, Visser 't Hooft brought up the question of the periodical Koinonia, which had been proposed and endorsed at an earlier meeting of the provisional committee. In response, Dr Henry Smith Leiper, the secretary in America of the provisional committee, suggested that the way "might ultimately develop for combining Christendom with such a journal and thus making it a world-wide journal of the Movement." (38) Whether this meant that Christendom would become such a worldwide journal, or that it would be absorbed into the Geneva-led project, is unclear from the minutes, but suggests that the relationship between the two endeavours had not yet been clarified.
The first meeting of the provisional committee following the Second World War was scheduled for Geneva from 21-23 February 1946. In advance of the meeting, the officers met in Geneva in December 1945, where it was agreed that "the matter of the creation of the Ecumenical Journal, possibly in connection with the Ecumenical Institute [at Bossey] should be submitted to the Provisional Committee," and to study the relations between this project and Christendom. (39) When the provisional committee gathered two months later in Geneva, a memorandum on the journal presented to a subcommittee summarized the discussions between the meeting at St Germain in January 1939 and the decision a year later to postpone further steps until after the war. (40) "The need for a journal as a continuous record and interpreter of the ecumenical movement is even more obvious today than when the project was first proposed," it stated. The expansion of the work of the World Council, its relationship to the churches, and the prospect of an assembly being held within the next two or three years "all emphasise the importance of beginning publication of the journal at an early date." (41) The memorandum noted that while the name Koinonia for the projected journal had been approved by the provisional committee in 1939, the question had been raised "whether it would not be possible to select a name which would be more meaningful to those who do not move in circles of theological scholarship." (42) As far as the relationship to Christendom was concerned, the memorandum noted that if the time had come for the WCC as a whole to have an ecumenical journal, "[m]ight the American Committee decide that it should now throw its support to the new journal instead of maintaining a separate publication of its own"--by transferring the goodwill of Christendom its subscription list, and the annual subsidy of 2000 US dollars made available to Christendom by the American Committee "at least for the first two or three years?" The memorandum recommended that "the American Committee for the World Council be invited to consider whether the purposes for which it has published 'Christendom' might now be more widely served by transferring its assets to the journal of the Provisional Committee."
There is no reference in the official minutes and reports of the provisional committee report to the recommendation concerning Christendom, nor is the paragraph about Christendom included in the published version of the memorandum. (43) Instead, discussion on the report of the sub-committee by the provisional committee as a whole is recorded as centring on the name for the proposed journal and the related issue of its style. Several members felt that a more "popular" publication would have wider appeal than the proposed "specialist" publication. The former, it was said, might be financially self-supporting, and it was also remarked that the suggested name, Koinonia, "would have no appeal for the general public" (44) Visser 't Hooft, however, declared himself to be firmly opposed to the idea of a "popular" magazine: "He said that it was impossible to produce a popular journal internationally, because in it one would have to use the 'journalese' of a particular country which would be unacceptable in other countries." There was already a plan in Britain to produce a "popular" national ecumenical journal, he noted, and this might be followed in other countries. "On these considerations, he approved the name Koinonia." (45) After further discussion, the provisional committee reaffirmed the earlier decision to produce a quarterly ecumenical journal, that for the time being it should be published in English, and that the first issue be planned for no later, if possible, than autumn 1947. (The memorandum that went to the sub-committee had stated "sometime in 1947, or not later than January 1948.") The question of the name was referred to the administrative committee (with the provisional committee recommending Koinonia), as was the appointment of an editorial board. Visser 't Hooft as general secretary was designated as editor-in-chief, a proposal supported by the nominations committee, "provided measures are taken in order to prevent the load carried by Dr. Visser 't Hooft becoming too heavy." (46)
The Ecumenical Review Takes Shape
At the meeting of the provisional committee the following year in the United States, Visser 't Hooft reported that it was now planned to bring out the first issue of the journal in January 1948. (47) As far as relations with Christendom were concerned, rather than its assets being transferred to the new journal, a tentative agreement had been reached with its board whereby every second issue of Christendom would include the "entire material of the ecumenical quarterly," carry the joint titles of the two periodicals, and with joint promotional and subscriptions arrangements. The proposal for a joint publication was accepted by the provisional committee provided that it was "reconsidered after the first experimental period." At the same time, a number of members of the provisional committee again expressed their view that the title Koinonia was unsuitable, "since it was unintelligible to many whom the ecumenical journal should attempt to reach." (48)
It proved impossible to publish the first issue in January 1948, Visser 't Hooft reported to a meeting of the administrative committee and members of the provisional committee at the beginning of that year. Instead, it was envisaged that the journal should appear at the time of the first WCC assembly, planned for August. (49) An accompanying report to the administrative committee on the "Ecumenical Magazine" set out the history of the discussion on the journal since 1939 and the "somewhat unusual arrangement" of the proposed cooperation with Christendom, and noted that the financial viability of the projected WCC journal depended on subscriptions in the United States. While it was envisaged to publish the journal only in English, it went "without saying that as soon as feasible French, German and possibly Spanish and Russian editions should appear."
The report returned to the nature and style of the journal, which should not be a "'popular' magazine," for a "magazine can hardly be truly ecumenical and at the same time popular." (50) What the ecumenical movement needed at the present time was "first of all an organ which gives thorough and substantial information on ecumenical developments and which represents as it were a permanent study and discussion conference on the great issues confronting the leaders of the churches as well as all those church-members who reflect on the nature of the Church and its task in the world." The approach of the ecumenical journal was thus defined for the years ahead.
There remained the issue of the name of the journal, a matter which the report failed to mention. Nevetheless, the "title of the magazine was fully discussed" in the committee. (51) While some members spoke in favour of Koinonia, "many others expressed the conviction that that title would not be understood by many of those to whom the magazine would be addressed." The minutes record that the issue was, unusually, put to the vote, with the decision that the journal should be titled The Ecumenical Review: Organ of the World Council of Churches.
At the beginning of 1948, Christendom reported that in a letter dated 14 October 1947, Visser 't Hooft had announced that "the first number of the long-awaited ecumenical journal will appear at the time of the Amsterdam Assembly." (52) Relations with Christendom, the report continued, would be further considered by the board of the ecumenical journal, and arrangements completed by early spring: "Meanwhile, Christendom will continue as at present." The first issue of the The Ecumenical Review duly appeared in August 1948, with Christendom editor H. Paul Douglass listed as one of the associate editors, alongside Nils Ehrenstrom and Stephen C. Neill. (53) In a letter to member churches in December 1948, Visser 't Hooft called their attention "especially to the Ecumenical Review, which should increasingly become one of our most useful means of contact with each other, and which will keep you informed about the main developments within the World Council." (54)
The proposed cooperation with Christendom never materialized. Instead Christendom was merged with The Ecumenical Review, with the last issue of Christendom appearing at the end of 1948. From its second issue onward, and for its first 15 volumes until July 1963, The Ecumenical Review appeared with the subtitle "Incorporating CHRISTENDOM, former publication of the American Committee for the World Council of Churches." There was no other reference to the merger in the journal; however, Visser 't Hooft told the WCC executive committee in February 1949 that much hard work was still needed to provide a sure foundation to the journal, and that it had "become quite clear that, without the merger with Christendom, it would have been very hard, if not impossible, to maintain the Review." (55)
The final issue of Christendom contained a set of articles dedicated to the Amsterdam assembly. In a "Valedictory," readers of Christendom were informed that the journal would now cease as a separate publication. "It is manifestly impractical to maintain--partially by subsidy--two journals for a single constituency America," they were told. "Christendom, consequently, is gratified to be allowed to find its place within the large enterprise of World Council journalism." (56) Christendom had aspired to become for America the "authoritative, Christian, ecumenical review," envisaged by the Edinburgh conference of 1937 for the worldwide movement: "Now that the World Council is a fully organized reality, and in position to fulfil the Edinburgh expectation as to ecumenical journalism, it is altogether fitting that Christendom should be merged in the more inclusive organ." (57)
Editorial, The Ecumenical Review, Volume 1, Issue 1, Autumn 1948
This Review is not an end in itself. Its one and only purpose is to help in the creation of true fellowship between the Churches. It is an instrument to be used by the Churches in order to give substance and reality to the new relationships between them which are implied in their participation in the World Council of Churches. The birth of the World Council can only be conceived as a point of departure--not as a point of arrival. Whether "Amsterdam" will be recorded in history as one of the great failures of the Church or as a new beginning, will not in the first place depend upon the utterances of the Assembly but on the decisions and actions taken by the Churches as a result of it. If "Amsterdam" does not lead, however gradually, to further concrete steps in the relations of the Churches to each other, it will all have been in vain.
The significance of the formation of the World Council is precisely that it gives the Churches a new opportunity of entering into a living spiritual contact with each other, and of reconstituting the fellowship which has been broken. The great question on the answer to which the divine and human judgment about "Amsterdam" will finally depend is whether the Churches will really use this opportunity.
For several centuries the Churches have not been on speaking terms with each other. This became manifest in that they either ignored each other or spoke against each other. In the various pioneering movements of the 19th century and above all in the earlier stages of the ecumenical movement, individual leaders and members of different Churches have begun to learn how to overcome this estrangement and to enter into an ecumenical conversation with each other. Yet the Churches as such have not yet participated in this conversation. The launching of the World Council means that in principle they now agree to listen and to speak to each other.
What are the characteristics of a truly ecumenical conversation between Churches? We will only gradually discover the full answer to this question. But this much can be said already. A conversation between Churches is a conversation about the truth of God and His purpose for men. The rules of diplomacy and politeness which have their use in the intercourse between states are overruled by the one fundamental concern with ultimate realities. We hope, therefore, that the pages of this review will reflect that common struggle for that truth which transcends all Churches and all men. We therefore ask our readers not merely to tolerate but to welcome uncompromising frankness of speech, even if at first reading it may hurt. Churches cannot afford to deal with each other on any lower plane than the plane of truth. How then can we ever hope to come closer to each other, if we do not say to each other openly what we really believe?
Churches which enter into conversation with each other can do so meaningly, however, only if they are willing to listen to each other--not merely in order to learn more about each other, but in order to learn more about their common Lord and about His will for the Church. The ecumenical conversation presupposes both a fundamental readiness to receive from sister Churches in the fellowship the gifts of grace which have been bestowed upon them, and a willingness to face the challenges and questions with which they confront us, not in their own name but in the name of the Lord. We would therefore ask our writers and readers to consider this Review not merely as an interesting record of events and tendencies of thought in the ecumenical world, but as a common spiritual adventure, leading to unexpected and surprising discoveries.
This Review will reflect the weaknesses of the ecumenical movement. We shall see that in so many ways it appears as a movement of disharmony and inner contradictions. It is weak also in that it lacks a clearly defined theology and presents therefore an easy target to shoot at from the trenches of a specific theology. The ecumenical movement is not a finished product and should not be judged as such. It is a meeting place of theologies and no one can know beforehand to what degree an "ecumenical theology" will emerge as a result of the conversation, or what its content may be.
This Review should, however, also reflect the true strength of the ecumenical movement. This strength lies in the fact that it is essentially a humble movement, a movement, not of "beati possidentes", but of those who stretch out their hands to receive from God a fuller knowledge of His truth and a fuller manifestation of His Church. We hope that it may be said of the writers and readers of this Review: "People who speak in this way plainly show they are in search of a fatherland... That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God; He has prepared a city for them."
V. 't H.
Stephen G. Brown is editor of The Ecumenical Review.
(1) Ecumenical Press Service, "The Ecumenical Review," Ecumenical Press Service No. 32/33, 13-20 August 1948, 219.
(2) W. A. Visser 't Hooft, "Editorial," Ecumenical Review 1:1 (1948), 1.
(3) Ibid., 2.
(4) Ibid., 2.
(5) Ibid., 2-3.
(6) Ibid., 3.
(7) Bishop Yngve Brilioth, "A New Beginning," Ecumenical Review 1:1 (1948), 4.
(9) Ibid., 10.
(10) Willem Adolf Visser 't Hooft, "The Genesis of the World Council of Churches," in A History of the Ecumenical Movement, 1517-1948, ed. Ruth Rouse and Stephen Charles Neill (Geneva: WCC Publications, 2004), 700.
(11) Ibid., 703.
(12) The report of the Committee of Thirty-Five can be found in the Report of the Second World Conference on Faith and Order (Edinburgh, August 3-18, 1937). Issued for the Conference by the Secretariat of the Continuation Committee (Oxford and New York, 1937), 48-50.
(13) Ibid., 37.
(14) See the report of the Committee of Fourteen following the 1938 Utrecht conference: Proposed World Council of Churches, Utrecht Conference, May 1939, "Statement of Action Taken at Utrecht Conference," Wm. Ebor (Chairman), W. A. Visser 't Hooft (Secretary), Wm. Adams Brown (Vice-Chairman), WCC Archives, 301.004/4.
(15) Visser 't Hooft, "The Genesis of the World Council of Churches," 705. The text of the proposed constitution can be found in the "Statement of Action Taken at Utrecht Conference."
(16) Proposed World Council of Churches, Utrecht Conference, May 1939, "Memorandum on Ecumenical Education," WCC Archives, 301.003/4.
(17) World Council of Churches (in Process of Formation), "Memorandum concerning the Ecumenical Journal," Confidential, no date, probably 1939, WCC Archives, 301.001/1.
(18) Ibid., 1-2 (emphasis in original).
(19) Ibid., 1.
(20) Ibid., 2.
(21) Ibid., 3.
(22) World Council of Churches (in Process of Formation), "Minutes of the Meeting of the Provisional Committee, Pavillion Henri IV, St. Germain-en-Laye, France, January 28-30, 1939," Strictly Confidential, Not for Publication, WCC Archives, 300.001, Box 1/7, 5-6; 301.005, Box V/4. It was proposed that the editorial board be made up of Bishop Ingve Brilioth, Prof. J. Bailie, Dean Henry P. Van Dusen, Prof. G Florovsky, the Rev. Pierre Maury, Dr J. H. Oldham, Y. T. Yu, and "possibly an Indian, an African, and a Latin American." The board would also include the secretaries of the provisional committee: the Rev. Nils Ehrenstrom, Prof. Leonard Hodgson, the Rev. William Paton, Dr Hans Schonfeld, as well as Visser 't Hooft.
(23) W. A. Visser 't Hooft, "To the Members of the Editorial Board of 'Koinonia'," 27 May 1939, with accompanying "Memorandum concerning 'Koinonia'," WCC Archives, 301.005, Box V/4.
(24) Congar had long been interested in ecumenism. In 1937, he co-organized a preparatory meeting in Paris for the Oxford conference of Life and Work, in liaison with Visser 't Hooft, but was refused permission by the Vatican to attend the Oxford conference as an observer. See Herve Legrand, "Yves Congar (1904-1995): une passion pour l'unite. Note sur ses intuitions et son hermeneutique oecumenique, a l'occasion du centenaire de sa naissance," Nouvelle revue theologique 126 (2004/4), 534, https://doi.org/10.3917/nrt.264.0529. The other names proposed for the Koinonia symposium on the future of the ecumenical movement were the Archbishop of York, Prof. Henry P. Van Dusen, the Bishop of Dornakal, Prof. T. C. Chao, Dr Eduard Thurneysen, Father Florovsky, Dr R. Newton Flew, Bishop Yngve Brilioth, the Rev. Pierre Maury, and the Rev. Wilhelm Menn.
(25) World Council of Churches (in Process of Formation), "Minutes of the Meeting of the Administrative Committee, Zeist, Holland, July 21-22, 1939," WCC Archives, 300.001, Box 1/7, 3; 301-005/1.
(26) World Council of Churches (in Process of Formation), "Minutes of the Meeting of the Administrative Committee, Hotel Zilven (Holland), January 7-8, 1940," WCC Archives, 301.005/2.
(27) "Memorandum concerning the Ecumenical Journal."
(28) Charles Clayton Morrison, "Foreword," Christendom 1:1 (1935), 12.
(29) Ibid., 13 (emphasis in original).
(30) See, for example, the article bv Hugh Vernon White in 1938 on the forthcoming meeting of the International Missionary Council in Madras, "Tasks and Opportunities at Madras," Christendom 3:1 (Autumn 1938), 497-506.
(31) Minutes of the Joint Meeting of the American Sections of the Faith and Order Continuation Committee and the Universal Christian Council for Life and Work," 28 September 1938, WCC Archives, 301.002/8.
(32) "An Important Announcement," Christendom 3:4 (1938), iv (emphasis added).
(34) "A Letter from Dr. John R. Mott," Christendom 3:4 (1938), v.
(35) "Report of the Associate Secretary for America to the Continuation Committee, Clarens, August 21-24, 1939," WCC Archives, 301.002, Box 11/12.
(36) World Council of Churches (in Process of Formation), "Minutes of the Meeting of the Administrative Committee, Hotel Zilven (Holland), January 7-8, 1940," WCC Archives, 301.005, Box V/2, 7.
(37) Visser 't Hooft, "The Genesis of the World Council of Churches," 709-10.
(38) "Minutes of the Meeting of the North American Members of the Provisional Committee of the World Council of Churches (in Process of Formation), held at the Princeton Club, New York City, Friday, May 18, 1945, at 5:00pm," WCC Archives, 301.013/5.
(39) World Council of Churches, "Meeting of Officers, Geneva, December 7, 1945," WCC Archives, 301.013/2.
(40) "Memorandum on Ecumenical Journal," World Council of Churches, Meeting of the Provisional Committee, Geneva, February 20th to 23rd, 1946, Prov. Ctee 46-7, WCC Archives, 301/006/4. The published version of the memorandum can be found in the Minutes and reports of the meeting of the Provisional Committee of the World Council of Churches held at Geneva from February 21st to 23rd, 1946 (Geneva: World Council of Churches, [1946?]), 131-33. Rather curiously, given that the mimeographed version is found as part of the set of preparatory documents for the provisional committee, the minutes state that while the memorandum was used as a basis for the discussion in the sub-committee, it "was not submitted officially to the Provisional Committee and has, therefore, no official status. It is given here as reference material." Minutes and reports, 131.
(41) Ibid., 132.
(42) Ibid., 133.
(43) The mimeographed version of the memorandum in the WCC archives has the paragraphs on Christendom struck through by pen.
(44) Minutes and reports of the meeting of the Provisional Committee of the World Council of Churches held at Geneva, 44.
(45) Ibid., 45.
(46) Ibid., 61.
(47) At the meeting of the administrative committee in August 1946, Visser't Hooft reported that while an editorial board had been set up, it would not be possible to publish the first issue in January 1947, due to the great pressure of work on the general secretary. Bishop Yngve Brilioth, who chaired the editorial board, proposed that the first issue should appear in January 1948, but the administrative committee "felt strongly that several numbers of the Ecumenical Journal should be circulated before the meetings of the World Assembly, [and] an endeavour should be made to publish the first edition in October, 1947." World Council of Churches, "Meeting of the Administrative Committee, St. Julians, August 2nd & 3rd, 1946," WCC Archives, 301.013/3.
(48) World Council of Churches, Minutes and Reports of the Provisional Committee of the World Council of Churches, Buck Hill Falls, Perm., April 1947 (Geneva: World Council of Churches, [1947?]), 35.
(49) World Council of Churches, "Minutes of the Meeting of the Administrative Committee and members of the Provisional Committee held in Geneva, January 23rd, 1948," WCC Archives, 301.013/6.
(50) The variety of contents and style of such a magazine, according to the report, "appeals only to those who are willing to make a special effort to understand other points of view than their own."
(51) "Minutes of the Meeting of the Administrative Committee and members of the Provisional Committee held in Geneva, January 23rd, 1948," 7.
(52) "Launching the New Ecumenical Organ of the World Council," Christendom 13:1 (1948), xiv.
(53) In February 1949, it was reported that Douglass had resigned for reasons of health. Minutes of the Meeting of the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches, Fxumenical Institute, Chateau de Bossey, Switzerland, February 8th - 10th, 1949, 17.
(54) Letter from W. A. Visser 't Hooft to the Member Churches, December 1948, 301.013/6.
(55) Minutes of the Meeting of the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches, Ecumenical Institute, Chateau de Bossey, Switzerland, February 8th-10th, 1949, 19.
(56) "Valedictory," Christendom 13:4 (1948), xiv.
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|Author:||Brown, Stephen G.|
|Publication:||The Ecumenical Review|
|Date:||Oct 1, 2018|
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