By Dr. Bill Johnson
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The 20th century has sometimes been called the ecumenical century, largely because the so-called ecumenical movement flourished then as it ran its course from beginning (at the Edinburgh Missions Conference in 1910), to the major step forward (the creation of the World Council of Churches in 1948), to a sort of climax sometime in the 1960s or 1970s. This movement in the United States enlisted mostly mainline Protestant churches, some Orthodox communions, and finally the Roman Catholic Church, at least as a partner in dialogue. Meanwhile, conservative Presbyterian denominations were moving from defensive suspicion to cautious exploration of ecumenical possibilities among themselves and other Reformed bodies. This article traces the outline and significant events of conservative American Presbyterian ecumenicity in the 20th century; originally intended for a primarily-PCA audience, it emphasizes the forerunners and experience of the PCA. Because of limitations of space, it can make only fleeting references to the many efforts among conservative churches of Dutch and German Reformed origins to also pursue ecumenical relations and how these various Reformed branches interacted.