History of the SACC

Council of Churches

As plans were being made for the first Assembly of the World Council of Churches in 1948, regional councils were being formed around the world. On June 1947, the Lord Bishop of Adelaide, Rt Rev'd Bryan Robin (Church of England) preside over the formation of the Regional Committee for SA of the World Council of Churches. Their main objective was "to represent South Australia in the World Council of Churches and to function as an integral part of the Ecumenical Movement". The Rev'd Louis Schmidt, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of SA was appointed Secretary.

Representatives were:

Church of England 9, Methodist 5, Baptist 2, Churches of Christ 2, Congregational 2, Presbyterian 2, Salvation Army 1, Society of Friends 1. Every member was appointed to one of the two committees - Faith & Order, or Life & Work. The Lutheran Church was represented at meetings by a visitor Rev Dr JJ Sotlz (UELCA). Reps were male and clergy. Meetings were held in the Epworth Building, Pirie Street. From the beginning the Council addressed issues such as ecumenism, faith, communism, aid to displaced persons following World War 2, refugee and immigration with direct correspondence to the Federal government on enforced repatriation and settlement by Japanese in Australia.

Brief Timeline of SACC

For full history of SACC to 2007, see here.
1948 Salvation Army and Society of Friends reps increased to two each.
1949 The Baptist church withdrew from membership
1950 The Christmas Bowl of Remembrance Appeal commenced with participation from all "non-Roman" churches in SA.
1951 The Inter Church Aid Committee was formed with Bishop Robin as Chair and Rev Ernest Woollacott (Methodist) as Secretary heralding the significant work of ecumenical co-operation in SA. This was to become today's Christian World Service (CWS).
1955 Representation from some member churches increased bringing the total to 29, providing opportunity for lay (male) reps.
1962 The Committee became the South Australian Council of Churches Inc with opening service in St Peters Cathedral.
1965 Inter-Church Aid committee was integrated with the SACC. Each holding separate identity but with a shared budget
1966, June/July in SA 270 churches with over 600 house groups (8,000 people) were involved in the Church and Life meetings growing ecumenical understanding and participation.
1967 Council involved with issues of Billy Graham Crusade, Vietnam War protest and supported a "Yes" vote in the Referendum "as a declaration of regret for the past and intention to give every necessary assistance to people of the Aboriginal race to enable them to take their place in the nation".
1970's Lutherans became members of the Faith and Order Committee and Roman Catholic Church become increasingly involved in ecumenical activities.
1976 The Commission on Social Questions was formed to enable communication between churches with sharing and co-ordination of work. Non-members of thecouncil -Catholic, Lutheran and Baptists also were part of this. Issues addressed included racism. violence/nonviolence, war/peace, and exploitation in the Pacific.
  • Romanian Orthodox Church join the SACC.
  • The Uniting Church in Australia inaugurated and joined SACC.
  • The Presbyterian Church briefly continued in membership but then withdrew.
1978 The Australian Council of Churches (ACC) Forum hosted by SACC in Adelaide at Lincoln College with a service in St Peter's Cathedral. Archbishop Edward Scott, Primate of Canada was guest speaker.
  • Ecumenical Lenten Study programme held.
  • The Greek Orthodox Church joined the SACC.
  • SACC moved to 155 Pirie St, joining with other NGO's enabling sharing and resources.
  • Mrs Janet Wood (UCA) first lay and first woman appointed as Executive Officer to SACC.
  • World Council of Churches meeting in Canberra.
  • Rev Dr Malcolm McArthur (UCA) became Executive Officer of SACC.
  • Executive Officer of SACC invited to join the SA Heads of Christian Churches Committee as a non-voting member enabling the two bodies to "keep in touch with each other and avoid duplication".
1997 SACC and other NGO's moved to the Torrens Building, Victoria Square.
1999 Rev Vikki Waller appointed new Executive Officer, the second woman and first ordained woman to hold the position.
2004 The 5th National Council of Churches Forum "At the cross roads - Living in a world of change" hosted by SACC was held at Lincoln College with a service in St Peter's Cathedral. Guest speaker was Rev Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches.
  • Rev Vikki Waller retires from SACC.
  • Ms Geraldine Hawkes appointed as Interim Manager
  • SACC enters into a time of discernment about the work of ecumenism and the role of SACC.

New Core Purpose accepted by General Council.
Geraldine Hawkes appointed Executive Officer, being the first Catholic to hold that role.

2008 Beginning of the implementation of Core Purpose and four SACC Priorities.
Move from Torrens Building to 65 Flinders Street.