The role of the Reformed church movement in global ecumenism is the focus of a meeting of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) set to get underway in Ghana next week. Discussion by the organization’s executive committee comes at a time when new models for inter-church collaboration are emerging in response to the decline in traditional sources of support for worldwide church organizations.
The 30-member committee is set to meet May 7-17 at the Forest Hotel in Dodowa near the country’s capital, Accra.
Committee members will be asked to consider how to stay connected with global ecumenical church organizations that are based in Geneva, Switzerland when the Communion’s international offices are relocated from Geneva to Hannover, Germany in January 2014. Debate will include reflection on which of WCRC’s ecumenical engagements should be prioritized and how to finance and staff ongoing support to those initiatives.
WCRC links 229 member churches in 108 countries with an estimated combined membership of 80 million people. The organization is known for its emphasis on theological formation, dialogue with other church traditions (Pentecostal, Catholic, Lutheran) and for its assertion that Biblical teachings instruct Christians to transform unjust social and economic systems that harm people and the earth’s ecological system.
Agenda highlights for the executive committee meeting include reception of reports from staff responsible for the Communion’s two programme offices – “Theology, Mission and Communion” and “Justice and Partnership”.
The recently-appointed head of justice programmes, Dora Arce-Valentín, will report on plans for the year ahead. These include follow-up on a recent consultation on church response to human trafficking as well as plans to establish a high-profile panel of economists and theologians to focus on proposals for alternative approaches to the global financial system. Arce-Valentín moved to Geneva to take on the portfolio full-time in January of this year following a one-year appointment as a programme consultant based in her native Cuba.
The head of WCRC’s theology programme, Douwe Visser, from the Netherlands, will report on theological formation for students and new pastors, dialogue with Pentecostal, Lutheran and Roman Catholic theologians, and distribution of grants for mission and development work through the Partnership Fund.
WCRC general secretary, Setri Nyomi, from Ghana, will report on relations among member churches as well as pastoral visits to churches facing major challenges such as those in Japan that are rebuilding in the wake of the tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011.
The Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana and the Presbyterian Church of Ghana are co-hosting the executive committee meeting. The agenda includes visits to local churches, an evening of cultural orientation, and a trip to the infamous Elmina Castle from which slaves were shipped to North America and the Caribbean in the 18th and early 19th centuries.