“…And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” —Micah 6:8 (NRSV)
Greetings in the name of Christ,
The only authentic way to begin this, my last message as general secretary, is with deepest thanksgiving to the God of Life.
Thanksgiving for the dynamic and life-affirming global koinonia that is the WCRC. For the leadership of the two Executive Committees and Officers groups. For exceptional and gifted leadership of the two presidents with whom I have had the honour to serve. Thanksgiving for the extraordinary gift of profound communion and prophetic discernment and witness at the 2017 General Council in Leipzig.
Gratitude for extraordinary staff teams who through so many changes have faithfully and competently served this worldwide communion. For the many, many people who have served on committees and dialogues and special processes, those who have represented us so ably, and who have helped construct a prophetic and visionary strategic plan. For the wisdom, courage, insight, and commitment with which the whole Communion has mobilized in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic to discern together what it is that God requires of us this moment.
Great thanks to the leadership and members of our regional councils who are at the heart of our identity and witness. To our member churches and leadership who continue, in the face of tremendous historical challenges, to affirm the value and importance of a global Christian family rooted in the Reformed tradition: “Called to Communion and Committed to Justice.”
To our member churches who continue to witness to the power of the resurrection in history in solidarity with the poor and powerless and who work in defense of the life of mother earth and all of creation.
To be Reformed is to be ecumenical, and we have been blessed with a great array of faithful partners which God has provided so we can strengthen each other in our common task. A special thanks we can see the growth of communion through the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) and in the Wittenberg Witness. We are so grateful for the ongoing partnership and hosting of our member churches in Germany and the Reformed Alliance.
After moving from Geneva, we pledged to remain active and present in the wider ecumenical family and are extremely grateful that we have moved forward with the World Council of Churches, Council for World Mission, Lutheran World Federation, and now the World Methodist Conference in the important work of NIFEA (New International Financial and Economic Architecture)—and such urgently needed initiatives as the ZacTax Campaign and the GEM School. We have joined in the efforts of the Pilgrimage for Justice and Peace and the Thursdays in Black campaign to end violence against women. We are now full members of ACT Alliance.
With special support from Evangelische Mission Weltweit (EMW) we have strengthened our regional councils and nurtured a very successful internship program. With the faithful contribution of the Tavola Valdese and others we have continued to share resources through the Reformed Partnership Fund and have played a significant role in peace and reconciliation work in Israel/Palestine, the Korean Peninsula, Colombia, Cameroon, Philippines, and Taiwan. We have been able to play an active and sometimes lead role in ecumenical forums witnessing to peace and justice.
And more. And more. The challenges come as we need to find ways to sustain our Communion and move beyond our yearly deficits and financial situation where the majority of the support comes from a few churches in a few regions.
The pandemic has revealed the broken state of the world in clearer terms than ever before and in the face of that we have found guidance in our strategic plans vision: “Confessing the God of Life in a world fallen among thieves.” We have embraced the four verbs that shape our identity and action: discerning, witnessing, confessing, and being Reformed together.
The WCRC is in a time of transition. A time of intense discernment indeed with the “COVID and Beyond” process. An interim period of securing a sustainable future and a team of three capable colleagues serving as a Collegial General Secretariat to guide us through this special and turbulent time.
Great gratitude to Phil Tanis, Philip Peacock, and Hanns Lessing as they assume such a special challenge. I am sure they will receive the full and eager support of our whole Communion. We have a change in administrative structure with Anna Krüger serving in an expanded role as Administrator for Finance and Sustainabilty. Amritha Peramulla also in the expanded role of Administrator for Projects and Programs. We welcome Godwin Muoneke as the new Administrator for the General Secretariat.
The COVID pandemic has made plain the life-threatening crises that were already besetting people and planet. Now we are called to respond by living into Micah’s vision: Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.
I leave office grateful and blessed and challenged. It has been a privilege to serve and be part of a global family afire with God’s promise that all should have life …abundantly.