Visa problems, an ongoing concern for ecumenical gatherings in the Northern Hemisphere, put a damper on the June celebration of the new World Communion of Reformed Churches, a group created by the merger of the two largest networks of churches in the Reformed tradition.
It is instructive and ultimately very encouraging for an American churchperson to get a glimpse of the global Christian enterprise. I had a chance to do so recently at a pastors consultation sponsored by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in Geneva, Switzerland. The alliance is a loose affiliation of 216 Reformed and Presbyterian denominations.
Two global groupings of Protestant churches have urged the African Union to intervene in the crisis in Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe’s government has cracked down on opposition protests as the country faces economic collapse.
Archbishop DesmondTutu has received India’s highest international honor, the Gandhi Peace Prize, and has dedicated it to “the people of South Africa, to the freedom of Darfur and to Aung San Suu Kyi,” the Burmese leader held under house arrest.
World Council of Churches officials have welcomed word that after 2010, the Lutheran World Federation and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches will no longer hold global assemblies of their own under current plans.
As bombs and rockets rained from the skies in Lebanon and Israel, the American presidents of international Lutheran and Reformed fellowships joined with the World Council of Churches to plead for an immediate cease-fire, saying that “the world cannot wait for signs of ‘a new Middle East’ to stop the killing.”
Leaders of two worldwide Reformed organizations, following a short meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan, have announced their unanimous recommendation for merger of the 75-million-member World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the 12-million-member Reformed Ecumenical Council.