Reformed church group approves strategic plan
The largest global grouping of Reformed churches has approved a strategic plan for 2011-2017 that focuses on youth leadership development, increased collaboration with regional church groups, and a call to make visible the connection between Reformed theology and justice concerns.
The decision came during meetings of the Executive Committee of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) in Geneva last week, according to a news release from the WCRC.
“The spirit of change is moving through the global family of Reformed churches,” WCRC President Jerry Pillay said. “This is the time for us to focus our efforts in responding to the needs of a hurting and broken world. We can’t do it all. Now is the time to choose what to do and to prepare ourselves to do it well.”
The plan was developed following the launch of the WCRC in June 2010, which was the result of the merger of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Reformed Ecumenical Council. Omega Bula of the United Church of Canada coordinated the Strategic Planning Team whose members were appointed from Malaysia, Uruguay, Northern Ireland, and the United States, South Africa and Canada.
The plan points to the importance of communicating what it means to be a member of the Reformed church tradition and to working with regional church groups to address gender, economic and environmental concerns. Mission and the study of Reformed theology in today’s world, along with renewed worship models, will be key to the work of the organisation in coming years.
In welcoming the adoption of the plan, WCRC General Secretary Setri Nyomi said, “This helps the staff team discern how best to meet the priority needs named by member churches and key partners.”
This process of prioritising is particularly important, Nyomi says, given the small staff team in Geneva. One of the programme positions will be vacant until later in the year when a new Executive Secretary for Justice and Partnership will be named to replace Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth who leaves the post at the end of May.
In his report on finances, General Treasurer Gottfried Locher, told the Executive Committee that funding for programmes such as theological education, gender justice and mission is strong.
Locher noted, however, that financing for the core budget of the organisation remains a concern as the rising value of the Swiss franc means WCRC realises less income from donations made in other currencies such as the U.S. dollar.
WCRC Finance Officer Yueh Cho reported that 60 member churches have not paid their annual contribution in over three years. The Executive Committee voted to enforce a constitutional provision that calls for church membership to be suspended when a church fails to respond to correspondence about arrears in contributions. The churches in arrears will first be given time to make up the amount due.
The Executive Committee approved a balanced budget for 2011 while endorsing the call for all member churches to pay their membership dues. Work continues on fundraising initiatives in support of the WCRC Endowment Fund in North America. Fundraising opportunities in other regions of the world are under discussion.
The Executive Committee concluded its meetings by paying tribute to the Executive Secretary for Justice and Partnership, Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth, who is leaving her position to return to her native Guyana.
Representatives from the World Council of Churches, Lutheran World Federation, and the Council for European Churches praised Sheerattan-Bisnauth for her collaboration in ecumenical programmes focused on gender rights, environmental concerns, and economic justice.
In other actions, the Executive Committee called on the government of Colombia to take specific measures to ensure the prosecution of those state and non-state actors responsible for human rights violations in a protracted internal conflict. It also asked the government of the United States to dismantle military bases in Colombia and redirect its foreign assistance to the country from military to humanitarian purposes.
WCRC’s 230 member churches representing 80 million Christians are active worldwide in initiatives supporting economic, climate and gender justice, mission, and cooperation among Christians of different traditions.