A few weeks ago, along with Jen Haddox and John Terech, I had the privilege of representing ECO at the General Council meeting of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) in Leipzig, Germany. The General Council meets every 7 years and consists of delegates from 220 member churches from around the world. ECO became a member of the WCRC in 2013 with the endorsement from the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRC) and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC), who were already members.
There are many great advantages to being a member of WCRC. For example, it validates us as a Reformed denomination across the world. Several instances have occurred where churches or institutions on other continents have received ECO pastors because of our WCRC membership.
The WCRC does some fantastic work around the globe. It has helped be a voice for numerous churches that are in the midst of political persecution. It has also helped fight justice issues such as human trafficking.
Being in a larger communion, however, is not free from challenges. It was certainly obvious the leadership of the WCRC has a very progressive agenda. Several times it was stated that there couldn’t be a separation between justice and evangelism. However, there was never talk about the evangelism part of that inseparable connection - and helping people come to know the Good News of Jesus Christ. The WCRC has also not taken a stance on human sexuality. However, the leadership from the front continued to push for inclusiveness of ordained leaders. In their eyes, it is a justice issue above an interpretation of Scripture issue. Biblical Integrity is one of ECO’s core values. Thus, when and if the WCRC’s agenda comes into conflict with our values, please note that we will assess our membership in that fellowship.
The very best part of the meeting was connecting with global partners around the world, and especially those who hold to a theology consistent with our theology. Jen, John and I each were approached and thanked for our biblical faithfulness and participation in the WCRC numerous times.
We are one of just a few voices in the Global North with an evangelical perspective. Our partners from the Global South appreciate ECO’s voice. We connected with representatives from denominations in the Global South including Brazil, Chile, North India, Nigeria, Egypt, Malawi, Mexico, Argentina, Ghana, South Africa, Indonesia, and even a few countries in highly persecuted areas that cannot even be mentioned here.
One woman, Sarah (pictured above), is from Uganda. She was at a Bible study table with John and said to him, “My husband and I have wanted to meet someone from ECO for several years! We thank you for your faithfulness to the Gospel and your participation in the WCRC.” She proceeded to give gifts to the three of us. We are truly so grateful and humbled by her prayers and excitement about the ministry of ECO all the way from Africa. Every time we were frustrated and wanted to book earlier flights home from this long trip, we would have another experience with a member church from the Global South who had heard about ECO and was thankful for our presence at the meeting.
I think we can participate in the work of the WCRC in a few ways. First, there are some projects, such as the issue of human trafficking, which may hold possibilities for us. Second, we could be involved in various theological discussions about mission and anthropology that continue to hold the centrality of scripture.
However, I believe that our best participation in the Communion will be with individual member churches (especially those from the Global South). Many of the churches we connected with mentioned having conversations and training in mission and ministry that would be mutually beneficial. We can be challenged and encouraged by these churches in their boldness and faithfulness, as well as understanding the cultures of those who are moving to the United States whom we desire to reach for the Gospel.
I, along with John and Jen, look forward to continuing conversations with these member churches and with all of you as we seek to develop flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ not only across the United States, but throughout the world.