Unity is a sacred calling
‘..that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. May they all be one, Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you’ (John 17:20-23 NRSV)
The Council of churches of WA (CCWA) is an incorporated association of Churches who seek to be true to the sacred calling given to us by Jesus, whose prayer was that we would be one.
The Council is an expression of this desire for greater unity and cooperation. CCWA has an important role in:
- promoting ecumenical worship
- encouraging churches to pray for one another
- facilitating formal and informal conversations between people or organisations of different church traditions
- promoting joint social mission.
- Encouraging churches to work together for justice and peace.
The Third World Conference on Faith and Order in Lund, Sweden in 1952 asked:
‘Should not our churches ask themselves whether they are showing sufficient eagerness to enter into conversation with other churches, and whether they should not act together in all matters except those in which deep differences of conviction compel them to act separately?”
This question became the ecumenical movement’s “Lund Principle”
“The Council of Churches WA gathers together in pilgrimage those Churches and Christian communities which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures and who commit themselves to deepen their relationship with each other.
Thus they will express more visibly the unity willed by Christ for the Church, and work together towards the fulfilment of their mission of common witness, proclamation and service, to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
The Council of Churches of WA calls on churches and Christian groups to deepen their relationships and their commitment to their common calling through dialogue, prayer, witness, service, and action in the cause of peace, justice and the preservation of the environment.
Despite many denominational divisions over the centuries, there has always been a core group of Christian people who were dreaming of, praying for and working towards a greater sense of unity and co-operation among Churches.
The Council of Churches’ history began in the late 1950s, when its name was the “WA Committee for the Australian Committee of the World Council of Churches”! Over the years the most common name was the “Western Australian Council of Churches”.
When the Roman Catholic Church joined the name was changed to the “Conference of Churches of WA”. In 2003 the name of the organisation was changed to “The Council of Churches of Western Australia (Inc)”.
The Council became an incorporated association in 1977. The first General Secretary was appointed in 1963. The Council has been involved with ecumenical advocacy and social justice works, for around half a century.
We offer an open invitation to other churches to consider our invitation to join with us in this ecumenical work.
A brief history of the Council of Churches Office Bearers:
- 2010- *Executive Officer: Alan Jennings, Roman Catholic
2011-12 *Ecumenical Officer: Rev Isobelle Shortreed, Uniting Church
2013- Rev Frances Hadfield, Uniting Church
*Two new positions created replacing the General Secretary Position
2009-2010 Rev Chris Bedding Locum General Secretary, Anglican
1998-2009 Rev Eira Clapton, Anglican
1992-1998 Rev Wes Hartley, UCA
1987-1991 Dr John Neal, Anglican (Full time from 1/1/88- 1/12/91)
1984-1987 Part time General Secretaries, one of whom was George Idle, UCA for a period of 6 months in l986.
1977-1983 Rev Roy Poole, Anglican
1972-1977 Rev Keith Dowding, Presbyterian/UCA
1969-1972 Mr Ian Allsop, Church of Christ
1963-1969 Rev Laurie G Staton, UCA
March 2011- Rt Rev Bishop Brian Kyme, Anglican
October 2010-March 2011 Paul Martin, Society of Friends (Interim)
March 2010-October 2010 Rev Dr Charles Waddell, Roman Catholic
March 2009-March 2010 Paul Martin, Society of Friends
March 2007-March 2009 Rev Marie Wilson, UCA
March 2005-March 2007 Ven David Ingleson, Anglican
March 2003-March 2005 Ms Ivonna Dansbergs, Lutheran
May 2001-March 2003 Mr Graham Nielsen, UCA
May 1999-April 2001 Ms Anne Fox, Roman Catholic
May 1998-April 1999 Rev Greg Harvey, Anglican
March 1996-April 1998 Deacon Theodore Issa, Syrian Orthodox
January 1994-February 1996 Ms Wendie Wilkie, UCA
December 1992-December 1993 Sr Sonia Wagner, Roman Catholic
December 1991-November 1993 Sr Libby Rogerson, Roman Catholic
May 1990-November 1991 Lt Col K B Morgan, Salvation Army
June 1986-February 1990 Rt Rev Brian Kyme, Anglican
April 1984-April/May 1986 Mrs Leonie Liveris, Greek Orthodox
December 1982-March 1984 Rev G Blyth, UCA
December 1981-November 1982 Archdeacon Dutton, Anglican
December 1980-November 1981 Rev V Cornish, Anglican
June 1979-November 1980 Major F Linsell, Salvation Army
April 1978-June 1979 Laurie Wilkinson, Society of Friends
March 1976-February 1978 Rev Jack Wilson, Methodist/UCA
Churches willing to accept the Basis and Objects of the Council and to co-operate in fulfilling its purposes through providing financial and participative support may apply for Membership of the Council. Please see the Constitution for further details.
Member Churches in 2011:
- Anglican Church
- Church of Christ Wembley Downs
- Coptic Orthodox Church
- Ethiopian Orthodox Church
- Greek Orthodox Church
- Lutheran Church
- Religious Society of Friends
- Roman Catholic Church
- Romanian Orthodox Church
- Salvation Army
- Syrian Orthodox Church
- Uniting Church
Associate Members of the Council:
Associates are Churches or Christian Associations sympathetic to the Objects of the Constitution; who are willing to participate in the work of CCWA and pay the Associate Membership Fee.
Associate Members in 2011 :
- Australian Church Women
- Australian Student Christian Movement
- Prison Fellowship Australia WA Council
- Five Leaf Eco Awards
- World Day of Prayer Committee
What we do….
The Council of Churches is an independent association incorporated in Western Australia. The Council has collegial relationships with ecumenical councils in other states of Australia, and with the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA).
The Council has no formal structural ties with the World Council of Churches, although many of CCWA’s member churches are members of the WCC. Many of the WCC study documents, programmes and initiatives are welcomed by the Council and assist in ecumenical endeavours in WA.
The Council of Churches exists to assist our members to work together on a variety of common interests including:
- Worship and praying together.
- Working together especially in the areas of hospital and prison chaplaincies through the work of the Chaplaincy Committee.
- Raising money for overseas aid and development through Act for Peace the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches.
- Meeting with State Government agencies and civic bodies who are interested in similar areas of concern such as Restorative Justice and Prison Reform, Sustainability, Social Justice and Refugees.
CCWA encourages and assists member churches as they:
- Plan ecumenical community projects
- Seek new ways of sharing buildings and ministry
The Council can provide the following resources:
- Networking and communications through our website and newsletter
- Seasonal studies for ecumenical groups such as Advent and Lent resources
- Special day resources including Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Refugee and Migrant Sunday, Social Justice Sunday, Simply Sharing Week
- Brochures and information from the National Council of Churches on a variety of topics
The Council also works in a variety of networks in Australia, in which it represents the member Churches.