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WCRC Creates a 'New Thing' for God's People
By Chris Meehan, News editor
From start to finish, the focus of the gathering was on the importance of valuing diversity while establishing unity. The unity was seen in discussions, but also in the times of worship, says Setri Nyomi, general secretary of WCRC, in an interview at the end of its 10-day meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the Upper Midwest of the United States.
Formed from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC), WCRC represents 230 churches and 80 million Reformed Christians worldwide.
Now that the meeting is finished, the WCRC will establish a strategic planning committee to help "unpack" all that was discussed and acted on this week.
Responding to "God's Word," the new communion made a number of statements on Friday and Saturday on such topics as the need to focus on human rights in countries including Somalia, Sudan, Burma[Myanmar], North Korea and Cuba.
It also overwhelmingly issued a strong statement protesting the denial of more than 70 visas for delegates and others from around the world who wanted to attend the meeting.
A major statement was issued, asking that the WCRC join in "prophetic solidarity" with Indigenous peoples around the world and "rely on God's grace and join hands together for all in a world in need of healing."
"This is a serious step and churches... will need address and accept this," said Clifton Kirkpatrick, former president of WARC who was moderating the discussion on Saturday morning.
The WCRC also discussed issues ranging from how to better include youth and women in member churches and ways to address how the current, market-based economy hurts people worldwide.
A special message was issued to children which said: "We will work together for everyone in our church family and for all other families, too!"
In all, the new ecumenical body spoke to the bulk of important issues and situations that impact the world today, such as the loss of Christians in countries in the Middle East and the dissension between churches in South Africa.
"We were moved by the Word of God which came to us in many ways as we explored our theme: 'making every effort to maintain the unity of Spirit in the bond of peace'," WCRC officials wrote in the final message.
"We recognized that this communion is for the sake of the world's transformation. We heard that our identity as God's people commits us to the work of God's justice."
"Certainly last Sunday's worship service (in Van Noord Arena with members of the West Michigan community) was where unity was celebrated, especially in how it was oriented to young people and children" said Nyomi.
"We had a wonderful time of celebrating today as the old was handed over to the new. Our emphasis on Native American and Indigenous people is part of the new. This is a point toward which the new organization will continue to follow issues of social justice."
Whether in addressing social justice or in new ways of worship, unity derives from one main source Ð Christ Ð and that was emphasized over and over again.
"We need to be where Jesus chose to be, namely among the poor and oppressed," said Jerry Pillay, a South African church official who was elected as the first president of the WCRC, in a sermon during the final worship service.
"God's presence in the world tells us that business as usual is no longer acceptable."