A Wider Vision: A History of the World Congress of Faiths, 1936 – 1996

by Marcus Braybrooke

The Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke DD., is a retired Anglical Clergyman and a Peace Councillor. He was Executive Director Council of Christians & Jews 1984 – 87, and Chairman of the World Congresses of Faiths 1978 – 83 & 1992 – 99, and is its current President. He is the author of more than a dozen books. His Lambeth Doctor of Divinity was presented by the Archbishop of Canterbury in recognition of “his world-wide work for inter-religious understanding and co-operation.”

Published by Oneworld Publications, 185 Banbury rd, Oxford OX2 7AR England. Used by permission of the author. The material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


(ENTIRE BOOK) The story of The World Congress of Faiths as one attempt to realize the vision and dream that all religions of the world might become one in spirit or at least forgo prejudice and hostility and work together for a happier world. NOTE: The Notes for all chapters will be found in the Notes at the end of the book.


  • Preface

    This history of the World Congress of Faiths demonstrates that the issues of the nature of inter-religious co-operation is of interest far beyond the members of the WCF.

  • Forward By The Reverend Dr Edward Carpenter, President of the World Congress of Faiths

    We are living during one of the most creative periods in the bringing together of all religions, although tentative and hesitant, but more significantly than at any other period. The World Congress of Faiths has been a significant part of this process.

  • !. Beginnings

    The spread of the British empire forced contact with other cultures and religions, and began the first real interests in other faiths.

  • 2. ‘A Man of Action and of Ideas’: Francis Younghusband

    Because the WCF both in its origins and throughout its history has been inspired by Francis Younghusband’s visions, his contacts, travels and inspirations are outlined in this chapter.

  • 3. World Fellowship Through Religion: The 1936 Congress

    The author describes in detail the beginning of organizing interests in the various religions and the foundations of gatherings between 1934 and 1936 ultimately leading to the World Congress in 1936.

  • 4. Hoping for a New World Order in the Midst of War: 1936-1942

    After the World Congress was finally organized, Younghusband immediately began planning for the future and the hopes of a new world order despite the disruptions of the World War II

  • 5. Carrying On: 1942-52

    The war along with the death of Sir Francis caused numerous problems in organization, and along with the problems of the Cold War, many difficulties in keeping the movement active were faced.

  • 6: New Shoots: 1952-1967

    There have been, over the past thirty years, many changes of officers and repeated attempts to redefine WCF’s role in a changing world. The following chapters will consider the main activities of the Congress.

  • 7. Keeping Up With a Changing World: 1968-96

    There have been, over the past thirty years, many changes of officers and repeated attempts to redefine WCF’s role in a changing world. The following chapters will consider the main activities of the Congress.

  • 8. ‘Lectures, Chat and Lukewarm Coffee’: Conferences and Lectures

    The author summarizes various conferences, and outlines and gives examples of the differences between people of different faiths.

  • 9. Truly Extraordinary: Foreign Religions in a Christian Church

    We worship the same God, but in interfaith gatherings worship is difficult and especial prayer. The author discusses the various criticisms and conflicts.

  • 10. Pages Enriched by Lives Dedicated to Truth

    The World Conference of Faiths has published innumerable publications, papers, journals and lectures, many of which are detailed in this chapter.

  • 11. From Aids to Yoga: Working With Others

    Braybrooke examines the WCF’s efforts to encourage local interfaith activity in Britain, its support for the Inter Faith Network of the United Kingdom, its educational work and its contact with some other societies.

  • 12. A Year of Inter-religious Understanding and Cooperation: </P>

    The World’s Parliament of Religions set aside the year 1993 to mark the centenary of it’s organization, and the WCF became active in it’s drive for a good response despite its lack of funds

  • 13. A Worldwide Interfaith family </P>

    Although Younghusband quickly took steps to establish the World Congress of Faiths as an international organization, the Second World War largely destroyed his efforts. Subsequently, small WCF groups have come into being in some other countries. The journal has had a small international circulation. WCF has also had friendly links with organizations with similar aims in several parts of the world, such as, in the fifties, the World Alliance for International Friendship Through Religion and subsequently with the International Association for Religious Freedom, the Temple of Understanding and the World Conference on Religion and Peace.

  • 14. In the Great Unity, We are Members One of Another: Conclusion

    The WCF has not become the world organization of which Younghusband dreamed or has it received great popular support, nevertheless, there have been significant shifts in attitudes about the relation of religions to each other.

  • 15. Interfaith Witness in a Changing World:: 1996 – 2006

    The Twin Towers attack of 9/11/01 has made many changes in interfaith matters. Nevertheless the WCF has continued with lectures, conferences and publications. There has been little growth in WCF’s membership probably because of the rapid and welcome growth of local interfaith councils and groups.

  • Notes