In a colorful but unspectacular service in New Delhi’s Vigynan Bhavan Hall, first erected by India for a UNESCO conference, the 13-year-old World Council of Churches absorbed the International Missionary Council in historic action on the opening day of the WCC’s third assembly.

Only the Norwegian Missionary Council disapproved merger with the ecumenical movement, whose “integrated” character was hailed as “a tremendous contribution to the mission of the church.”

So fully had the merger plan been publicized in advance that the program seemed routine, despite addresses laboring its significance by Dr. W. A. Visser’t Hooft and Bishop Lesslie Newbigin, who becomes director of the World Council’s new Division of World Mission and Evangelism. Hereafter this division incorporates the IMC membership of 38 national Christian councils and national missionary councils.

Russian Orthodox Church Voted Into Wcc Membership

During the long week preceding the opening sessions of the World Council of Churches’ third assembly, one topic dominated almost every discussion. But when Britain’s Ernest Payne gaveled the Monday morning business session into action, only 31 minutes were required to dispose of what may go down in history as the most significant action of the assembly.

Anticipations of the delegates for fiery rhetoric went completely unrealized when the application for admission to the World Council by the Orthodox Church of Russia was presented. Speeches of approbation by other Orthodox groups were greeted by enthusiastic applause. Two speeches of abstaining votes (Hungarian Reformed Church in America and Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in North America) brought only stony silence.

Ten minutes after the voting, an interim report stated ...

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