Reformed, Lutheran Churches Hold Off Joint Assembly

Leaders of world communions will not be holding their global assemblies together as hoped. Instead, they will be holding it at different locations and places with their own separate schedules.

The World Alliance of Reformed Churches, which represents 75 million Reformed, Presbyterian, Congregational, and United churches, had hoped to hold its 2010 global assembly jointly with its Lutheran counterpart, the Lutheran World Federation.

However, during the WARC executive committee meeting in Evian, France, the LWF General Secretary Ishmael Noko apologetically said such a joint meeting would not be possible.

"We learned with a deep sense of disappointment that the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), while affirming their willingness to consider ecumenical gatherings in the future, decided to proceed on their own with an assembly in Stuttgart in 2010," the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, the alliance’s president, announced Thursday during a meeting of WARC's executive committee, according to Ecumenical News International.

There are a handful of very large World Christian Communions that represent the Protestant Church body. Three of those communions – the World Council of Churches, LWF, and WARC – are housed in the Ecumenical Center in Geneva, Switzerland.

Since 1997, the Reformed alliance proposed that the conferences of these three communions “should, if possible be organized jointly and concurrently,” as a means to cut costs and foster Christian unity.

"We in WARC believe that we have a unique opportunity for WARC and LWF to set the example ... as an expression of our commitment (to Christian unity)," Kirkpatrick and WARC General Secretary Setri Nyomi wrote in their proposal.

However, LWF’s Noko said a joint meeting between the LWF and WARC may lead to misunderstandings since it would not include the WCC – which is holding its 9th international assembly in Brazil next February.

Despite the LWF’s decision, the WARC leadership said they will hold off on choosing the location and time for its own 2010 assembly until 2007 with the “hope that ecumenical possibilities may emerge” in the meantime.