The Uniting General Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) has come and gone. For many in the Christian Reformed Church, it was an intensely busy time. Since the Council was held on the campus of Calvin College, we were a primary host denomination and had responsibilities for all kinds of activities and services. And since our people are the kind of people they are, they showed their energy, hospitality, reliability and faith to those attending. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who displayed to the Reformed world the gracious face of the CRCNA.
As one of the CRCNA’s six delegates to the Council, I was very much aware of the significance of the proceedings. For decades the Reformed Ecumenical Council provided its member churches with a forum in which to interact on issues of confessional integrity and solidarity, and gave the opportunity to talk, pray and study together and to support each other. We six voted with the other REC delegates to dissolve the Council. I had a lump in my throat when I raised my hand in assent.
For generations, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches provided an opportunity for fellowship and common witness, particularly in matters of justice, to churches around the globe that identified in some way with the Reformed tradition. The six of us voted with the other WARC delegates to dissolve the Alliance. The gravity of the decision we made weighed on us.
When the time came to officially create the new ecumenical body, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, I wondered: Will this new entity be stronger, better, more effective than the two previous organizations? Will the commitment to confessional fidelity and mutual encouragement that was so much part of the ethos of REC live on in WCRC? Will the passion for justice in its many forms that was so much of what WARC was about beat in the heart of WCRC? When it was all said and done, I left feeling encouraged and hopeful.
The WCRC will build on two priorities, with equal attention paid to each. First, we agreed that Communion would be a priority. What does it mean to be a Communion of Reformed Churches? How does Communion get expressed? What is the basis of Communion? How do denominations in the North and the South, the East and the West, from rich and poor communities, perceive Communion, and how does it become real among them?
Second, we stated very clearly that justice will be a priority for the WCRC — justice, in its many dimensions, including: economic justice, gender justice, racial justice, political justice, justice for minority groups in society. To repeat what someone at the UGC said, quoting someone else: “The gospel without justice is not the gospel at all.” I believe that by being part of the new WCRC, we are embarking on something good and powerful, which will bear fruit for the Kingdom and which will bless the member denominations, including the CRCNA. It was an honour to be a delegate.