Reformed church gathering to focus on Christian unity, finances
Church unity, justice, peace, and financial issues are at the heart of discussions as the senior decision making body of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) opened its annual meeting on May 10 in Berastagi, North Sumatra, Indonesia.
Members of the Executive Committee are meeting until May 17 to plan the Geneva-based organisation’s future in times of increasing pressures on churches caused by financial concerns and differences over issues such as the ordination of women.
WCRC president Jerry Pillay, a pastor from South Africa, told approximately 50 committee members, advisors and staff that he is concerned about cases of disagreement that are leading to division and the creation of new churches, according to a WCTC news release.
“Unity is at the heart of what it means for us to be a communion of churches,” Pillay said. “We need to emphasise that which unites us and not that which divides us.”
WCRC general secretary Setri Nyomi’s report noted the ways in which the communion has accompanied churches in their engagement in mission and justice and in seeking to overcome divisions. This included work concerning Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa and Middle Eastern countries over the past year.
Nyomi also said the economic crisis is affecting WCRC’s income as most donations are received in Euros and American dollars yet the organisation’s offices are in Switzerland where the cost of the Swiss franc is high. The committee’s agenda for the coming days will include in-depth discussion about how to ensure financial stability in the coming years.
The day began with worship hosted in a local church, the GBKP Runggun Berastagi Kota. In a service attended by the Executive Committee and members of the congregation, Pillay spoke about the example of generosity in the early Christian church as recorded in the book of Acts in the New Testament.
In reference to WCRC’s reputation as a champion of social and economic justice, Pillay challenged Christians today to follow this example.
The Moderator of the Gereja Batak Karo Protestan Church (GBKP), Pastor M.P. Barus, welcomed the WCRC participants from Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, North America, and the Middle East, saying it is an honor for his church to host the first international gathering of this type in the Karo region of North Sumatra.
The WCRC was created in 2010 through a merger of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Reformed Ecumenical Council. Its 230 member churches represent 80 million Christians.
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