After the initial successes of the Ecumenical Movement in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, church leaders (in 1937) agreed to establish a World Council of Churches, based on a merger of earlier organizations. Its official organization was deferred by the outbreak of World War II until August 23, 1948, when representatives of 147 churches assembled in Amsterdam to form the WCC.
WCC member churches today include nearly all the world's Orthodox churches, scores of denominations from such historic traditions of the Protestant Reformation as Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed, the Anglican Communion, and a broad representation of united and independent churches. The largest Christian body, the Roman Catholic Church, is not a member of the WCC, but has worked closely with the Council for more than three decades and sends representatives to all major WCC conferences as well as to its Central Committee meetings and the assemblies.
Representatives meet every seven years in an Assembly, which elects a Central Committee that governs between Assemblies. A variety of other committees and commissions answer to the Central Committee and its staff.
WCC acts both through its member churches and other religious and social organizations to coordinate ecumenical, evangelical and social action.