RepositoryChurch of England Record Centre
LevelFonds
Alt Ref NoBCC
ExtentApproximately 435 linear metres
TitleBritish Council of Churches
Date1942-1992
DescriptionThe BCC archive includes papers of its major departments/divisions, including: youth department (later youth unit under division of ecumenical affairs) - papers for these can be found in BCC/YD; department of international friendship (later department of international affairs then division of international affairs) - papers for these can be found in BCC/DIA; department of social responsibility (later division of community affairs) - papers for these can be found in both BCC/SRD and BCC/DCA; department of evangelism (later department of faith & order, then department of mission & unity and then finally division of ecumenical affairs) papers for these can be found in BCC/DEA; education department (later under division of community affairs) - papers can be found in both BCC/ED and BCC/DCA; general secretariat - papers can be found in BCC.

Some particular areas within the archives include the following examples:
Local ecumenism - files of correspondence with individual local councils of churches, and also files on various religion and life weeks held throughout the country during the period 1940-1950.
Membership and member churches - correspondence files with major denominational bodies throughout England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
Dealing with the World Council of Churches (WCC) - the decision to form the WCC was taken at the 1937 Oxford and Edinburgh Conferences. It was formally brought into existence at its first Assembly in Amsterdam in 1948. In the intervening years, existing ecumenical work was carried out by a Provisional Committee and a smaller Administrative Committee. There are files relating to the work of both these committees as well as the three Assemblies. Also included are files on meetings of the Executive and Central Committees, the Bossey Ecumenical Institute and the Lund Faith and Order Conference, 1952. Also of interest are the files relating to the WCC Jubilee celebrations in Edinburgh, 1960 and the Appeal for a new HQ in Geneva.
Dealings with other organisations - these include Conference of British Missionary Societies (CBMS), the British & Foreign Bible Society, International Missionary Council and the Council of Christians and Jews. Also included are papers of groups and organisations taken over by the BCC such as the Interchange of Preachers Committee.
Other areas - deposited papers of Dr Hugh Martin and Dr William Paton. There is also papers of the Advisory Committee of Christian Churches set up to develop the churches role in the Festival of Britain.
Other activities included: the Inter-Church Process also known "Not Strangers but Pilgrims" - nationwide consultation with people from every level (parish, diocesan) and every denomination which was to start from the bottom up; Britain Today and Tomorrow project;
AppraisalMaterial to be kept permanently
AccrualsNo further accruals expected
ArrangementAll the divisions (post 1968 and 1974) have their own sub fonds of the BCC, except the General Secretariat, which is to be found directly under BCC.
LanguageEnglish
CreatorNameBritish Council of Churches
AdminHistoryFirstly a note on the various organisations, whose amalgamations eventually led to the foundation of the British Council of Churches. The World Alliance for International Friendship [through the churches] (British Division) was founded in 1914. In 1935 this body amalgamated with the Christian Social Council of Great Britain & Ireland (which was earlier known as the British Committee of the Universal Christian Council of Life & Work, which had been founded as a pre-runner to the Stockholm Conference in 1925). This joint organisation became known as the British Christian Council for International Friendship, Life & Work. The Oxford and Edinburgh Conferences of 1937 and 1938 led to calls for the setting up of a World Council of Churches and the subsequent founding of a Council on the Christian Faith and Common Life in 1938. In 1939 the British Christian Council for International Friendship, Life & Work and the English Christian Council (also known as the Christian Social Council, and the Council of Churches in England on Social Questions) (which had been founded in 1929) were incorporated into a new council to form the Commission of the Churches for International Friendship & Social Responsibility. In 1942 there was a further amalgamation between the three following ecumenical organisations, namely the aforementioned Commission of the Churches for International Friendship & Social Responsibility and the aforementioned Council on the Christian Faith & Common Life, together with the (British Section) of the World Conference on Faith and Order to create a single body, namely the British Council of Churches (BCC), which was founded on 23 September of that year.

The basis for the BCC's existence was the same as that agreed in 1938 for the proposed World Council of Churches - "A fellowship of churches which accept Our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour."
The functions of the BCC were defined as follows:
1) To carry on the work of its three predecessor bodies (listed above).
2) To facilitate common action by the churches in evangelistic enterprise, in promotion of international friendship, in stimulating a sense of social responsibility and in guiding the activities of the churches for the welfare of youth.
3) To promote co-operation in study and to ensure adeqate British participation in the studies promoted by the World Council of Churches.
4) To assist the growth of ecumenical consciousness in the members of all churches and generally to promote Christian unity.

The BCC began with sixteen member denomiations including Church of England, Baptist Union, the Methodist Church, Church of Scotland, Salvation Army, The Society of Friends; and several inter-denominational organisations including YMCA, YWCA.

Originally the the main focus was on international affairs and social questions. However by the 1950s there were seven main departments: - Education, Evangelism, Faith and Order, Inter-Church Aid, International Affairs, Social Responsibility and Youth. It was reconstituted in both 1968 and 1974. After the latter, there were five divisions Christian Aid (formerly Inter Church Aid), Community Affairs (formerly Social Responsibility), International Affairs, Ecumenical Affairs (incorporating Faith and Order, Evangelism and Youth) and the General Secretariat.
The Catholic Church had no involvement with this body. In the 1980s a dialogue began between the two which became known as the "Not Strangers but Pilgrms Inter-Church Process". The intention was to be able to bring the two together. As a result of this process the BCC ceased to exist on 31 August 1990 to be replaced the following day by a new ecumenical body the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland (of which the Catholic Church was a part). In 1999 this new body was renamed to become known as Churches Together for Britain & Ireland.
CustodialHistoryMaterial was in own custody until the late 1980s when it passed briefly to Selly Oak, College Birmingham before being deposited at the Record Centre in 1990.

The Christian Aid (formerly Inter Church Aid) archives are at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
RelatedMaterialFor records relating to the World Alliance of International Friendship [through the Churches] (British Section) (fonds ref: WAIF)
For records relating to the British Committee of the Universal Christian Council of Life & Work (fonds ref. BCUCCLW)
For records relating to the Christian Social Council of Great Britain and Ireland (fonds ref: BCUCCLW)
For records relating to the British Christian Council for International Friendship, Life & Work (fonds ref: BCCIFLW)
For records relating to the Council on Christian Faith and the Common Life (fonds ref: CCFCL)
For records relating to the Christian Social Council (also known as: Council of Churches in England on Social Questions; and English Christian Council) (fonds ref: CSC)
For records relating to the Commission of Churches on International Friendship & Social Responsibility (fonds ref: CCIFSR)

For records relating to the Burge Memorial Trust (fonds ref: BMT)

Please note:
The Christian Aid (formerly Inter Church Aid) archives are at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
Records of the Joint Committee on Religious Liberty (ad hoc group run jointly by the CBMS and the BCC) are also at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
PublnNoteThirty Years of the British Council of Churches 1942-1972 by Ernest A Payne (BCC 1972)
Church of England Year Books
British Council of Churches Thirty Second Assembly 96th Meeting of the Council - The work of Boards volumes 1 and 2 (Spring 1990)

Show related Persons records.

Related name records
CodeNameDates
DS/UK/3615British Council of Churches; 1942-19901942-1990
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