WARC: ''We are committed to justice,'' say Reformed church leaders

Leaders of two global networks of Reformed churches set to merge in June have issued a statement declaring their commitment to a continued focus on justice concerns following the merger. The text includes specific reference to racial justice.

The statement was drafted by members of a joint working group following meetings in Grand Rapids, United States, last week which focussed on the creation of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) from a union of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC).

Recognizing the role of some churches during the apartheid era in South Africa, the statement says, “We must confess that we have not always been faithful to God in working for justice. Apartheid, other forms of racism, gender injustice, injustice in the economy and climate injustice are just a few of the areas in which churches have often found themselves complicit.”

“The WCRC will build on a long history of justice related actions. This history includes declaring apartheid sinful and its theological justification a heresy”, the statement declares.


WARC’s president, Clifton Kirkpatrick, emphasizes, "This statement demonstrates clearly that the way we repudiate apartheid and all other forms of injustice as contrary to the gospel will continue in the life of the WCRC. We are absolutely committed to continue the tradition of active advocacy to end apartheid in all forms."


In affirming the joint commitment of the two organizations to principles of justice based on biblical text, REC’s president, Peter Borgdorff says, "The member churches of REC will enter the formation of the WCRC with enthusiasm for the proclamation of the ‘good news’ and the pursuit of biblical justice in every realm of God's creation.”


Richard van Houten, REC’s general secretary, notes, "It is very important that we affirm our commitment to justice at the beginning of the WCRC.  Justice is a profound biblical theme that reflects God-given rights to all human beings."


The WCRC is to be launched at the Uniting General Council (UGC) on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids (18-28 June).


WARC’s General Secretary, Setri Nyomi says, "I am glad that in this meeting of the joint working group we made a clear statement on justice.  Coming four months before the Uniting General Council, I look forward to how the World Communion of Reformed Churches will build on the Accra Confession and other instruments to continue a firm commitment to dismantling injustice in every form."


The Accra Confession, issued by WARC member churches in 2004, declares economic injustice and environmental destruction to be contrary to biblical teachings.


The full statement by the joint working group follows.


Statement by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) – Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC) Joint Working Group


WARC-REC Joint Working Group calls on

WCRC Uniting General Council to commit to Justice


The Joint Working Group of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Reformed Ecumenical Council calls on its member churches and delegates to the Uniting General Council to renew commitments to Justice in the world. This call was made in its meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, February 1 to 4, 2010.


Commitment to justice is very consistent with Reformed Theology and will be an important value and emphasis for the World Communion of Reformed Churches, which will come into being in June 2010.  The WCRC will build on a long history of justice related actions.  This history includes declaring apartheid sinful and its theological justification a heresy, as well as working for gender justice, economic justice and justice for persons affected by HIV/AIDS.  All members of the working Group affirm such a forthright stance of faith and continue to call for strengthening our Christian witness in any situation in which life is compromised.  We must confess that we have not always been faithful to God in working for justice.  Apartheid, other forms of racism, gender injustice, injustice in the economy and climate injustice are just a few of the areas in which churches have often found themselves complicit.  We give thanks to God that we all agree that these injustices should not be found in our churches. We are called upon to expose them and to work for justice.


The WCRC and its member churches understand our calling as a communion to be intricately linked with our commitment to justice. The ongoing reflection of churches on Communion and justice, as well as the work of covenanting for justice in the economy and the earth, will provide key elements for the discussions that will provide vision and direction for the future.  The encounters with native Americans during the Uniting General Council will be an expression of our commitment to justice for all.  We pray that what we will learn in those encounters will inspire us to honour people of the first nations in the Americas as well as deepen our commitment for justice for all.


We celebrate with joy the work of the Holy Spirit in uniting the two ecumenical instruments of the Reformed family. This union will foster spiritual and church renewal as well as deepen how we apply Reformed theology to actions and challenges of the 21st century.   


We invite all to pray towards the Uniting General Council and the formation of the World Communion of Reformed Churches.


The WARC-REC Joint Working Group consists of five members each from the Reformed Ecumenical Council and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches including their Presidents and General Secretaries.

WARC, 10 February 2010

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