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7-15 May 2013
A brief history of the World Communion of Reformed Churches
Renewed and Reformed
The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) was born through the merger of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC) in June 2010. Delegates meeting June 18-28 in Grand Rapids, United States, launched a landmark effort to unite Christians for common witness and service to the world.
WCRC has its roots in the 16th-century Reformation led by John Calvin, John Knox, Ulrich Zwingli and the earlier reforming movements of Jan Hus and Peter Valdes. Today most member churches are in the Global South and many are called to witness as religious minorities in their countries. WCRC has its secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.
A proposal for an historic union between REC and WARC
In 2005, the REC Assembly resolved to approach the World Alliance of Reformed Churches to propose a much closer relationship, that the REC become an "entity within" the WARC. Later in 2005, the WARC Executive Committee agreed to the idea but with some more far-reaching options. In January 2006, a joint committee of eight delegates proposed that the two organizations each disband and that the member churches together form a new organization, with the suggested name of the World Reformed Communion. The highlights of this history-making process are captured in these documents.
• The REC Extended Executive Committee Consensus Statement (March 2007)
• REC Process Proposal for Proceeding toward the World Reformed Communion (March 2007)
• Letter from Joint Meeting (February 2006)
• A Proposal for a New Global Entity for Reformed Christians (January 2006)
Ground breaking initiatives
WCRC is best-known for the Accra Confession, a groundbreaking declaration that Christians are called by biblical teachings to be advocates of social and economic justice. The statement issued at the General Council in Accra, Ghana in 2004, declares the theological conviction that the economic and ecological injustices of today’s global economy require the Reformed family to respond as a matter of faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Opposition to the apartheid regime of South Africa led the Reformed church movement to debate and recognize the importance of the Belhar Confession at WARC’s General Council in 1982 in Ottawa, Canada. The statement rejects any church doctrine that “sanctions in the name of the gospel or of the will of God the forced separation of people on the grounds of race and colour”.
Work on the intersection between theology and social action in the Reformed church movement continues today with the Cartigny Statement issued at a theological consultation in 2010 and the Johannesburg Statement issued by justice advocates in 2009. A report presented to WCRC’s Uniting General Council in 2010 by German and South African churches recorded a process of reflection on differences of opinion about the Accra Confession. Discussions led to new insights into differing points and eventually to a shared understanding of terms used in the Accra document. The report is titled Dreaming a Different World Together.