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Reformed Churches Move Forward with 'Momentous' Plan to Merge

The two largest fellowships of Reformed churches worldwide moved one step closer to uniting under a common alliance, marking what some called a ''momentous'' event in ecumenical Christian history.

The two largest fellowships of Reformed churches worldwide moved one step closer to uniting under a common alliance, marking what some called a “momentous” event in ecumenical Christian history.

The executive committee of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) moved forward with a request by the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC) to foster great cooperation and possibly start sharing projects and staff in the near future.

The WARC has 75 million members in 218 churches across 107 countries and the REC has 12 million members in 40 churches across 25 countries. The two groups have 27 common members churches and have been in bilateral talks since 1998.

The new relationship would deepen these discussions and change the nature of the two bodies’ relationships. Under the proposed agreement, which the REC General Council passed earlier this year, the REC would become a subsidiary organization within the WARC while still maintaining its autonomous identity. This would open doors to joint projects and joint staffing, cutting costs for both groups and fostering a stronger spirit of ecumenism among the world’s reformed churches.

“When the two organizations dare to journey together in God’s mission, our member churches will be served better and, in fact, our witness as Reformed churches will be stronger,” Setri Nyomi, general secretary of WARC, said in July when the REC initiated the invitation.

WARC Executive Council members applauded the closer partnership and greeted it with a singing of “Alleluia.”

“This is a very exciting proposal, one that will be of tremendous benefit to WARC and I hope, REC,” said Alexander Horsburgh of Scotland.

Susan Davies of the United States added, “We have just done something momentous.”

Talks between four members of each body will begin in early 2006. The WARC Executive Council meeting was held in Evian, France on Oct. 6-15.

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