The two largest Reformed church bodies in the world unveiled the details of their historic joint conference this past week, launching together the first site for their soon-to-be-officially merged group.
On Wednesday, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC) launched reformedchurches.org, which focuses on the activities that will occur before, during and after the creation of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC).
Though still more than a year away, the Uniting General Council (UGC) meeting is generating quite a buzz as it will mark the official merger of the 75-million-strong WARC and the 12-million-strong REC after years of talks.
The REC had initiated the invitation to merge in July 2005 after 7 years of bilateral talks, and leaders of the two fellowships recommended less than six months later to put the church bodies on an even platform by forming a larger group to succeed both.
In March 2007, REC's executive committee approved the idea of a new Reformed body, which will be the largest association of Reformed Churches in the world, later consolidating plans with WARC leaders in October 2008.
After the formalizing the merger at the upcoming gathering, June 18-28, 2010, the new Reformed body intends to invite movements, agencies and theological institutions of the Reformed movement to become affiliates of the group.
Aside from making the merger official, the joint gathering, titled "Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace," will address a range of issues, including Reformed identity, theology and communion, Christian community and ecumenical engagement, justice in the economy and on earth, worship and spiritual renewal, leadership development, gender justice, and empowerment of youth.
At the moment, more than 1,000 delegates, guests, volunteers and staff are expected to attend the meeting at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. Women and youth will hold additional events just prior to the meeting.