Reformed church Christians propose sacramental union

Setri Nyomi: ''The decision is in line with John CalvinÔÇÖs commitment to Christian unity''

Representatives of Reformed, United and Presbyterian churches from diverse traditions have voted to form a union which is unprecedented in its inclusiveness and overcomes longstanding divisions among some churches.

The executive committees of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC), meeting jointly for the first time last week in Geneva, approved a draft constitution for a new organization to be called the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC).

Use of the word “communion” implies that member denominations of the new organization will accept the ordination of each others’ clergy and respect the rites of each tradition. The draft constitution for the new organization says “no individual or church may claim precedence or dominance over another.”

The move signals a significant step towards unity among Reformed churches which have splintered into separate denominations over the years since the Protestant Reformation was launched in 16th century Europe.

“The decision is in line with John Calvin’s commitment to Christian unity,” says Setri Nyomi, WARC’s General Secretary referring to the early church reformer. “It signals that Reformed churches today are ready to do their part.”

The draft constitution will be presented for approval by delegates of the two organizations at the Uniting General Council to be held in Grand Rapids, United States in June 2010.

REC’s president, Peter Borgdorff, who led the process of drafting the constitution, declared it an important signal that Reformed churches are “seeking to overcome their divisions and come together as one body in the tradition of Biblical teachings which describe the Christian church as one body made of many parts.”

Other decisions made by the joint executive committees on the final day of meetings, Friday 30 May, included approval of a proposed new programme and staff structure, elimination of the current budget deficit by 2011, and a draft budget for the new organization, subject to approval at the June 2010 general assembly.

“Our objective was to create a sustainable model for our combined organizations”, says WARC President Clifton Kirkpatrick. “To achieve this we had to make some difficult decisions such as reducing the size of the staff. But we are confident that we have a good basis now on which to build for the future.”

The joint executive committees also decided that the new organization would be established in Geneva where the WARC offices are currently located. The report on a proposal for relocation accepted by the governing bodies says the decision could be revisited three years after WCRC is created. For now, says the report, “It was deemed wisest to focus on planning for the WCRC and our world assembly.”

Pressemitteilung des Reformierten Weltbundes (RWB) / WARC