July 1968

World Council of Churches (WCC) meets in Sweden and discusses relief actions taken since outbreak of Nigeria-Biafra War and what to do going forward

The WCC met for its fourth annual assembly in Uppsala, Sweden, from July 4 to 20, 1968. During the meetings, the WCC discussed the current state of the Nigeria-Biafra conflict, specifically the humanitarian aspect, and examined efforts taken to help relieve and reduce the human suffering. The WCC had affiliated churches in both Nigeria and Biafra, and both sides had a number of allies among the 756 representatives. Thus the resolution was carefully neutral: it called for peace and increased humanitarian assistance to those living in dire circumstances, but it did not mention the word “Biafra” and argued that aid should be extended to all sides through the auspices of the International Red Cross. (The formation of Joint Church Aid—see November 1968—is in part a response to this WCC decision.)

Present at the WCC meeting was Dr. Francis Akanu Ibiam, one of the six presidents of the WCC and a former governor of the Eastern region of Nigeria. Ibiam strongly advocated on behalf of Biafra at the Assembly and among church people internationally.

Dr. Francis Akanu Ibiam and Archbishop William Wright at the Fourth Annual Assembly of the WCC in Uppsala, Sweden, July 1968. Source: World Council of Churches archives.
See Also:

Maurer, Robert E. “Nigeria/Biafra Negotiations During World Council of Churches Gathering: A Personal Remembrance.” Part of the African Activist Archive Project at www.africanactivist.mus.edu. Deposited July 14, 2008.

Von Rütte, Hans. “The Problem of How to Enact Diakonia: The World Council of Churches and the Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970.” CIHA blog, May 18, 2016.

Welch, Claude. “Mobilizing Morality: The World Council of Churches and its Program to Combat Racism, 1969-1994.” Human Rights Quarterly 23:4 (November 2001): 863-910.

Wiseberg, Laurie. “Christian Churches and the Nigerian Civil War.” Journal of African Studies 2:3 (1975): 297-331.

Sources: https://www.oikoumene.org/en/about-us/organizational-structure/assembly/since-1948; http://www.ajcarchives.org/ajc_data/files/653.pdf