- Introducing Nicaea 2025
- Sixth World Conference on Faith and Order
- History of World Conferences on Faith and Order
The year 2025 marks the 1700th anniversary of the world’s first Ecumenical Council, the Council of Nicaea of 325, a key moment in the history of Christian faith and for the ecumenical journey today.
To mark the anniversary, the World Council of Churches is planning a year of activities with member churches, other churches, Christian World Communions, national and regional organizations, and theological and ecumenical institutions.
At the centre of the WCC’s activities will be the holding of the Sixth World Conference on Faith and Order, gathering church leaders and theologians of different traditions around the theme “Where now for visible unity?” with a focus on the issues of faith, unity, and mission.
The first Ecumenical Council in 325 was a gathering of Christian bishops in Nicaea, now İznik in present-day Türkiye, as the first attempt to reach consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, and to affirm the Christian faith in the triune God.
In Nicaea, Christians who only recently had been persecuted in the Roman Empire were able to gather under the patronage of the Emperor to affirm their faith and witness to the society around them. Then, as now, the call to unity was heard within the context of a troubled, unequal, and divided world.
The anniversary offers an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the affirmation of faith in the Nicene Creed, the mission of God’s triune love and the implications this has for the common witness and service of the churches, and offers the opportunity to ask afresh with others what Nicaea means for churches and Christians today.
The centrepiece of the Nicaea 2025 commemorations of the World Council of Churches will be the Sixth World Conference on Faith and Order, to take place at the ancient St Bishoy Monastery at Wadi El Natrun, near Alexandria, Egypt, from 24 to 28 October 2025, around the theme “Where now for visible unity?”
World Conferences on Faith and Order have been held at key moments in the history of the ecumenical movement. The first such conference was held in 1927 in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Faith and Order movement was one of the streams that lead to the creation of the WCC in 1948. The fifth and most recent conference took place at Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in 1993.
World Conferences focus and amplify the work of Faith and Order. They highlight past and ongoing texts and themes, and they advance the cause of visible unity.
A steering group of the WCC’s Commission on Faith and Order chaired by the Rev. Prof. Dr Sandra Beardsall is developing plans for the sixth conference and associated events.
Alexandria is historically of great significance for early Christianity, playing an important role in the debates which led to the Council of Nicaea, and the Sixth World Conference will gather church leaders and theologians of different traditions with a focus on the issues of faith, unity, and mission.
As well as church leaders and theologians of different traditions, a major emphasis of the conference will be to involve a new generation of younger and emerging theologians, not least through a Global Ecumenical Theological Institute (GETI) organized in conjunction with the world conference.
Thirty years after the fifth world conference at Santiago de Compostela, the times in which we are now living represent a significant “moment” in the life of the world and of the ecumenical movement. There are compelling reasons to bring the churches together in our times for a world conference.
A world of climate catastrophe, pandemic, war, and economic concern requires a fresh engagement of the churches with one another on the core issues of faith, unity, and mission that both unite and continue to divide them.
The Sixth World Conference on Faith and Order will be the sixth such gathering since the First World Conference on Faith and Order was held in 1927 in Lausanne, Switzerland, giving birth to the Faith and Order movement. Since then, world conferences on Faith and Order have been held at key moments in the history of the ecumenical movement. In 1948, the Faith and Order movement helped form the World Council of Churches.
Over the decades there have been five Faith and Order World Conferences (the links direct to the online conference reports found in the Faith and Order Papers Digital Edition):
- 1927 – Lausanne, Switzerland
- 1937 – Edinburgh, Scotland
- 1952 – Lund, Sweden
- 1963 – Montreal, Canada
- 1993 – Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Each conference gathered large numbers of church representatives from around the world who wrestled with the issues of faith and church in the contexts of their day. Together they engaged in the search for the manifestation of the one Church of Christ in eucharistic fellowship through agreement on apostolic faith, sacramental life, and ministry.
When the Sixth World Conference on Faith and Order gathers in 2025, it will do so in a global context that has changed considerably. Christianity's demographic “centre of gravity” has moved out of the Northern hemisphere, accompanied by the growth of Independent, evangelical, Pentecostal, and neo-Pentecostal denominations in the Southern hemisphere.
Alongside the Sixth World Conference on Faith and Order, there will be many ways for Christians and churches to engage in the sharing in the Nicaea anniversary. These will include:
Resources to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will invite congregations and individuals to draw on the shared heritage of Nicaea and to enter more deeply into the faith that unites all Christians.
Jointly prepared by the WCC’s Commission on Faith and Order and the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, the drafting of the materials had been entrusted to the brothers and sisters of the monastic community of Bose by the WCC and the DPCU.
In 2025 all Christians will celebrate on the same date both Easter (20 April 2025) and Pentecost (8 June 2025), the Easter calendars of Eastern and Western Christianity will coincide. This will be a reminder that attempts to establish a common date for Easter began with the Council of Nicaea in the year 325.
Further, there will be
- Webinars on key aspects of the commemoration of Nicaea and the work of Faith and Order
- Contributions to conferences and gatherings around the world
- Online and local interactive presentations and conversations
- Links to Nicaea commemorations being organized mong the churches
Information about these events and activities will be posted on this webpage as they become available.
Leading up the Nicaea commemoration in 2025, the World Council of Churches will be producing spiritual life resources, bible studies related to the Sixth World Conference, webinars on key aspects of the work of Faith and Order, and publications and articles on relevant topics.
Resources that are currently available include:
A special thematic issue of the WCC journal, The Ecumenical Review (all articles are currently free to read)
Videos on different aspects of the anniversary and the Sixth World Conference
An online collection of the studies, research, and convergence texts produced by Faith and Order in its history, including the past studies below related to the commemoration of the Council of Nicaea:
Councils, Conciliarity and a Genuinely Universal Council (1974)
Formulated by Faith and Order in 1973, this text reflects the ecumenical interest in the discussion of conciliarity and ecclesiology prompted by the Orthodox and Roman Catholic participation in the ecumenical movement following the Second Vatican Council.
Confessing the One Faith. An Ecumenical Explication of the Apostolic Faith as it is Confessed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (381) (1991)
Confessing the One Faith is a 100-page commentary on the Nicene Creed, undertaken as part of Faith and Order’s larger project of expressing the apostolic faith within a contemporary, ecumenical context.
One God, One Lord, One Spirit. On the Explication of the Apostolic Faith Today (1998)
Emerging from the Faith and Order study project “Towards the Common Expression of the Apostolic Faith Today,” the book includes reflections on the three articles of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed.
Apostolic Faith Today: A Handbook for a Study (1985)
A collection of historical documents related to the Faith and Order study on apostolic faith, including the creeds of the ancient church, confessions of faith from the 16th and 17th centuries, and statements emerging from the ecumenical movement of the 20th century.
Rev. Dr Susan Durber Moderator of the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches 2014–2023
Rev. Prof. Dr Sandra Beardsall, Moderator of the Nicaea 2025 Steering Group.
Prof. Dr. Myriam Wijlens, University of Erfurt, Germany, member of the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches
Bishop Anba Suriel of the Coptic Orthodox Church, member of the WCC’s Commission on Faith and Order.