The first "World Pagan Congress" was hosted in June 1998 in Vilnius, Lithuania, organized by Jonas Trinkunas, the founder of Romuva, a Lithuanian neopagan organization. The renaming from "Pagan" to "Ethnic" was the result of a day-long passionate debate. The congress was held under the name "World Congress of Ethnic Religions" during 1999 to 2010. The 2006 and 2009 conferences were held in India, in the spirit of collaboration between western Neopaganism and Hinduism.
The intention of a worldwide scope was "more of a dream than reality", as the congress mostly consisted of representatives of neopagan movements in Europe. To reflect this, the organization was renamed "European Congress of Ethnic Religions" in 2010, acting on a suggestion by Trinkunas.