Vibrant opening worship held at Luyanó Presbyterian Reformed Church in Havana, Cuba marked the beginning of the executive committee meeting of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) in Havana, Cuba from 7-13 May. The meeting was hosted by the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba, a member church of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
The WCRC’s executive committee is comprised of officers and members selected by a general council, as well as elected leaders of the regional councils. The executive committee’s mandate includes oversight of WCRC’s vision and activities between councils, including fostering church unity and coordinating common initiatives for mission, theological reflection and formation, church renewal, justice and dialogue.
In his annual report, WCRC President Rev. Jerry Pillay, a member of the Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa, stressed the theme of the upcoming General Council in 2017: “Living God, renew and transform us.” He urged the member churches to engage more deeply with this perspective. “We need to embrace a greater and deeper vision…as we continue to pursue our work and witness as an organisation. Our efforts of renewing and transforming the world must start with us if we are to earn respect and remain relevant in addressing the challenges in a changing world.”
The General Council will take place in Leipzig, Germany from 27 June to 7 July 2017. In preparation, the executive committee reviewed plans, focusing on the discernment and consensus process that will be used at the General Council. The committee also approved the final phase of the WCRC’s strategic plan.
The WCRC also sent a letter of solidarity to the WCC protesting the detention and deportation of numerous members of the WCC Working Group on Climate Change by Israeli security forces as they attempted to enter the country for a conference in April. The letter expressed concern for the travelers. “We pray for their comfort and renewal of their hearts after this inexcusable and traumatic experience,” the letter stated.
The WCC was represented at the meeting by Natasha Klukach, programme executive for Church and Ecumenical Relations. In her greetings to the executive committee she emphasized the value of the WCRC as a Christian world communion in contributing to the strength of the ecumenical movement.
“As a communion of churches, you are committed to particular qualities in your relations as churches. The ways in which you nurture this spirit of koinonia, exemplified particularly in your common witness for justice, can inspire churches of other confessions in their own calling to church unity.”
“The WCRC is especially well placed to respond to the ecumenical pilgrimage of justice and peace,” she added, urging the executive committee to consider the ways in which their work could contribute to the activities being undertaken around the world as part of the pilgrimage. She encouraged the WCRC to see its role as an organization to inspire and motivate its member churches to identify their activities in mission as part of a global movement.
Throughout the meeting, the executive committee interacted with local churches and the Cuban Council of Churches which was celebrating its 75th anniversary. It issued a “Statement from Cuba,” which expressed the WCRC’s desire to show solidarity with the Cuban churches. The statement concluded with the following prayer:
Living God, Do not let us conform to the world’s view of power but let us always be dependent upon you. Transform our uncertain faith with a resilient grace that faces each new day. Renew in us a commitment to our sisters and brothers everywhere that face challenges in their lives as a church. Thank you for making us braver than we are. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
The World Communion of Reformed Churches is comprised of 80 million Christians in Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed, United, Uniting and Waldensian churches. The WCRC, working with its 225+ member churches, is active in supporting theology, justice, church unity and mission in more than 105 countries.