Two Largest Reformed Communions Form Deeper Partnership

The Reformed Ecumenical Council may join the World Alliance of Reformed Churches as an independent but subsidiary entity, marking one of the largest steps toward uniting the global reformed church in modern history.

Delegates to the REC’s general assembly agreed to begin a new process that could deepen its relationship with the WARC. The two organizations are the largest communions of reformed churches in the world - The REC has 10 million members in 39 churches in 25 countries while the WARC has 75 million members in 218 churches in 107 countries.

The decision calls for a new round of talks in which four members from each organization would enter a more focused conversation “with the possible outcome being that REC would maintain its identity as an entity within WARC,” a press release from the Alliance stated.

Along the way, the two fellowships may start sharing projects and personnel. The two churches already share 27 common member churches, and have been in bilateral talks since 1998.

Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the WARC, applauded the REC’s decision and said the growing closeness between the two communions is a witness to the world in a time when religious differences can result in violence.

“It is an important contribution that our Reformed family can make to the reconfiguration within the ecumenical movement in the 21st century,” said Nyomi. “WARC and REC, which serve the Reformed family, can dare to lead the way.”

“I hope we will continue to search together for other concrete ways in which we can work together and to be open to the Spirit’s leading on how we can serve our churches best. We do have much in common, not the least of which is the common Reformed family we serve.”

Meanwhile, in other business, the REC chose Dr. Douwe Visser, a minister of the Protestant Church in Netherlands, as its new moderator. Visser, 52, served as the REC’s Vice President for the last 9 years, and served from 1983 to 1990 in the Reformed Church in Zambia.

Other executives elected to the REC board were: Dr. Winston Kawale, General Secretary for the Church of Central Africa-Presbyterian, Nkhoma Synod from Malawi, as the Vice President; The Rev. Victor Pillay, moderator of the Reformed Church of Africa; Dr. Lazarus Purwanto of the Christian Churches of Indonesia; and Ms. Nina Dewi of the Christian Church of Sumatra, Southern Part. The new representatives will serve for the next four years.

The REC Assembly was held from July 12-26 in Utrecht, Netherlands.