World Council of Churches - News
WCC GENERAL SECRETARY WELCOMES COMMON DATE OF PENTECOST
For immediate release: 09 June 2011
The general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Rev.
Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, has welcomed that in 2011 both eastern and western
Christian traditions are marking Pentecost on the same day, and has urged a
redoubling of efforts to reach a common date in the future.
"Pentecost marks the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower the church,"
said Tveit. "In a world divided by poverty and violence, we give thanks for
the gift of the Holy Spirit amongst us, to strengthen us and make us one in
our witness to the peace of the Christ."
In 2011, Pentecost falls on Sunday 12 June. The day occurs fifty days after
Easter and is seen as the feast of the church.
Because the date of Easter is calculated using either the Julian calendar
used by most Orthodox churches, or the Gregorian calendar, Christians of
eastern and western traditions often celebrate Pentecost on different
There have been five times in the past 10 years when Easter and thus
Pentecost have fallen on the same date for all Christians. In coming years
this will be less frequent with the next coinciding dates being in 2017 and
Tveit reiterated an appeal for Christians to reach agreement about a common
date for Easter. He expressed the hope that the issue could be part of
regional and confessional preparations for the next WCC Assembly which will
take place in 2013 in Busan, South Korea.
Significant work was undertaken in the 1980s on agreeing a common date at
the Pan-Orthodox level, but implementation was difficult at the time because
many churches concerned were living under communist regimes. This work was
taken up at a consultation in 1997 in Aleppo, Syria, sponsored jointly by
the WCC and the Middle East Council of Churches, which proposed a way of
calculating the date of Easter so that it would always be celebrated on the
"I hope that in the decade ahead, Christians from different traditions will
work together in trust and mutual accountability to come to agreement about
a common date for Easter, on the basis of the process laid out in the Aleppo
document," said the WCC general secretary.
Pentecost message by the WCC presidents (Link:
Frequently asked questions about the date of Easter (Link:
The Aleppo document (Link:
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and
service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches
founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox,
Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in
over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.
The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran]
Church of Norway. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.