As the World Communion of Reformed Churches met for its 2017 General Council in Leipzig, Germany, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), offered greetings and thanked Reformed Churches for their contribution to the ecumenical movement.
Tveit was speaking following a service to mark the WCRC General Council at Leipzig’s historic Nikolaikirche attended by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The service recalled how in 1989 the Nikolaikirche became the focus for mass peaceful protests that contributed to the end of communism in East Germany.
The theme of the gathering, from 28 June through 1 July, is “Living God Renew and Transform Us.”
This theme echoes the call of the 2013 WCC Assembly, a “Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace,” said Tveit.
“Indeed, we are on our way together, forward, not waiting for everything to be absolutely clear and agreed among us before we can move, but praying that Jesus Christ will show us the way. This image of pilgrimage is a way of unity together in the churches and the ecumenical movement of our time. “ Tveit added “The world is in desperate need of sustainable expressions of fellowship and unity. How can we live together as one humanity in this common home God has given us?”
Reformed Churches and the WCC continue to walk as companions side by side in the one ecumenical movement, Tveit continued.
“You are a communion of churches we highly appreciate and admire in the wider ecumenical family, particularly for your strong commitment to justice and peace as conditions for any expression of unity.”
Tveit reflected “We can only move into the unknown, our time is the only time we have. Nobody can live in the past. However, it is not only an impossible agenda; it is a very risky and dangerous agenda to try to go backwards. We can see in our time many of these different unrealistic, self-protective, clearly dividing, and in some cases aggressive and even violent agendas of trying to go back to something they pretend is still intact or can be restored as it was.”
Tveit added “You have reminded all of us that our faith also calls us to a costly commitment to transformation, in the face of fascism, in rejection of nuclear arms, in care for the integrity of creation, in resistance to structures of economic injustice, in search for gender justice, in condemning occupation or other violations of international law, and in overcoming all forms of racism.”
Tveit concluded "Inspired as we all are by the music of Bach in the city of Leipzig, we conclude as he always did - and as you Reformed so often remind us Soli Deo Gloria. To God be the glory! Amen."
The WCRC’s 29 June – 7 July General Council is gathering about 1000 participants in the eastern German city Leipzig.
The WCRC groups more than 225 Protestant churches with a combined membership of about 80 million Christians in Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed, United, Uniting and Waldensian churches in over 100 countries. Its offices are in Hannover, Germany.