The appellation was chosen for the 1965 Addis Ababa conference of the non-Chalcedonian churches, in order to distinguish them from the Eastern Orthodox churches, which are Chalcedonian. The participating churches were the Coptic, the Ethiopian, the Syrian, the Armenian, and the Indian, the five churches that rejected the of the of CHALCEDON in 451. They were represented by delegations composed of ecclesiastics and laymen, headed by their patriarchs, except for the Armenians, who were represented by their two catholicoses, those of Echmiadzin and Cilicia.

The conference, which was held on the initiative, and at the invitation, of Emperor HAILE SELASSIE, was an important event in church history. The heads of these churches had not met in person since the of EPHESUS in 431, over fifteen centuries earlier. The conference, held on 15-21 January 1965, was preceded by a period of consultation (9-14 January).

The conference adopted embodied in three resolutions and a long declaration, comprising a preamble and six chapters: “The Modern World and the Churches,” “ on Church Education,” “Cooperation on Evangelism,” “Relations with Other Churches,” “Machinery for the Maintenance of Permanent Relations Among the Churches,” and “Statement on Peace and in the World.” A standing committee, with an interim secretariat, was appointed by the conference and held several meetings in the following years.