Leaders of two global networks of Reformed churches set to merge in June in Grand Rapids, MI, have issued a statement declaring their commitment to a continued focus on justice concerns following the merger. The text includes a specific reference to racial justice.
The statement was drafted by members of a joint working group following meetings on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids last week which focused on the creation of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) from a union of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC).
The merger takes place at a meeting set for June 18-28 at Calvin College. The meeting will draw hundreds of delegates and visitors from countries around the world. The Christian Reformed Church in North America is one of the denominations helping to host the event.
Recognizing the role of some churches during the apartheid era in South Africa, the recently issued statement says, "We must confess that we have not always been faithful to God in working for justice. Apartheid, other forms of racism, gender injustice, injustice in the economy and climate injustice are just a few of the areas in which churches have often found themselves complicit."
The statement also declares: "The WCRC will build on a long history of justice-related actions. This history includes declaring apartheid sinful and its theological justification a heresy."
WARC's president, Clifton Kirkpatrick, emphasizes that the statement "demonstrates clearly that the way we repudiate apartheid and all other forms of justice as contrary to the gospel will continue in the life of the WCRC. We are absolutely committed to continue the tradition of active advocacy to end apartheid in all forms."
In affirming the joint commitment of the two organizations to principles of justice based on biblical text, REC's president and Executive Director Emeritus of the CRCNA, Peter Borgdorff, says, "The member churches of REC will enter the formation of the WCRC with enthusiasm for the proclamation of the 'good news' and the pursuit of biblical justice in every realm of God's creation."
Richard van Houten, REC's general secretary, notes, "It is very important that we affirm our commitment to justice at the beginning of the WCRC. Justice is a profound biblical theme that reflects God-given rights to all human beings."
WARC's General Secretary, Setri Nyomi says that he was pleased that out of the meeting at Calvin emerged the statement on justice. "Coming four months before the Uniting General Council, I look forward to how the World Communion of Reformed Churches will
build on the Accra Confession and other instruments to continue a firm commitment to dismantling injustice in every form," Nyomi says.
The Accra Confession, issued by WARC member churches in 2004, declares economic injustice and environmental destruction to be contrary to biblical teachings. To read the entire document that came out of the recent meeting, click Justice Statement.
The World Communion of Reformed Churches will bring together millions of Reformed Christians in more than 200 churches from more than 100 countries.