Story: Interdenominational Christianity
Page 4 – Ecumenism
National Council of Churches
Ecumenism is the movement to unite different churches. In 1941 the National Council of Churches (NCC) was founded by seven Protestant denominations including Anglicans, Baptists and the Salvation Army, to discuss their differences and to cooperate with each other. The NCC was a foundation member of the World Council of Churches in 1948. A separate Inter-church Committee on Public Affairs included Catholic representation. Among the benefits from this movement was the establishment of interdenominational chaplains in prisons, hospitals and universities.
Council of Churches in Aotearoa New Zealand
The Second Vatican Council in the late 1960s authorised much closer links between Catholics and Protestants and in 1989 the NCC was replaced by a new ecumenical body with Catholic participation – the Council of Churches in Aotearoa New Zealand. However, Baptists would not join, Catholics later withdrew and the organisation closed in 2005.
Faith discussion groups
In the early 1990s liberal groups, including the Sea of Faith Network and Ephesus, were formed for people of various denominations to discuss faith and theology.
A broad church
In 1943 the Congregational Union, Methodist and Presbyterian churches at Raglan combined to form New Zealand’s first Union Parish Church. In 1947 the same three denominations decided to form a Union Parish in Taita, Lower Hutt, which became the first officially recognised Union Parish. From 1967 the Uniting Congregations of Aotearoa New Zealand (UCANZ) also included the Anglicans and Associated Churches of Christ. By 2010 UCANZ administered 132 cooperative parishes in New Zealand.
Negotiations to create a single evangelical church revived after the Second World War, involving the Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational churches and the Associated Churches of Christ. In 1964 the Anglican Church joined these discussions and in 1969 a plan for union was issued. Church members loyal to their own denomination, especially within the Anglican Church, defeated these plans. However many cooperating parishes had been created by combining small parishes of several denominations. These parishes continue in the 2000s and have an overarching body, the Uniting Congregations of Aotearoa New Zealand. Training of ministers became more collaborative, particularly between Methodists and Anglicans, whose theological colleges work in partnership on their shared site in Auckland.