Information about WARC

World Alliance of Reformed Churches
150 route de Ferney, PO Box 2100
1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
Telefon: +41 22 791 6240
Fax: +41 22 791 6505

The World Alliance of Reformed Churches is a worldwide alliance of Reformed, Congregational, Presbyterian and United churches. It links together more than 75 million Christians from 213 chuches in 107 countries, all of which are churches with a Reformed tradition.

The origins of this tradition go back to the 16th century. The Reformers Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, Martin Bucer and many other less known European Reformers laid the foundation stones of the Reformed churches of today: Zwingli and his theology of the Lord’s Supper which has characterized the Reformed congregations up to this day by emphasizing that the Lord’s Supper is a memorial feast; Bucer and his organization of the church in which the parish is supervised by pastors and elected parishioners; and Calvin by systematizing the theology of the Reformed Church in his Institutio Christianae Religionis.

The Reformed chuches are distinguished by their relationship to their congregations and by their emphasis on God’s rule over the whole world. This rule becomes evident in God’s story with mankind, as recorded in the Bible in the Old and New Testaments, and as it proceeds in the story of the church and of the People of Israel. God established a covenant with man when the world began at Creation , and with Noah, confirmed it with Abraham and renewed it with Jesus Christ. The Holy Scriptures tell of this covenant, of God’s story with mankind, of His words of encouragement and His expectations. Christians of the Reformed Church trust that God’s promise of His blessing holds for the whole of Creation. “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.’’ (Ps.24,1) At the same time, God’s covenant expects of man that, for his part, he now do his utmost to implement God’s rule in the world. This is the aspect which, during the past few years, has become the focus of attention in the work and identity of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

“Thus saith the LORD, keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.’’ (Isa. 56,1) God is coming and brings righteousness and salvation into the world and Christians live according to their faith in this promise of God, thus working towards justice and salvation themselves, and towards a „life in abundance“ for all.

Resulting from this firm belief, Christians who have joined in the World Alliance of Reformed Churches get involved in the departments and the various programmes for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation. Thus, for instance, a „Coalition for Justice“ was founded which does research on the economic, social and ecological effects of globalisation, evalues it and informs people about the chances and risks of globalisation. People from all parts of the world, men and women, young persons and adults, are working jointly on the project at the end of which there should be a statement by the Reformed churches on globalisation.

The commitment towards Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation characterizes the continuous work of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, just as it does the general assemblies which convene every five years. Theme of the next General Assembly of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in 2004 in Accra, Ghana, is to be „An abundant life
for all“.

However, it is not only in ethics that Reformed faith expresses itself: a further characteristic feature of Reformed churches and parishes is their structure. They are built up from the grassroots. The parishioners elect elders from their midst who, together with pastors and in some places also deacons, supervise the parish. The parishes send delegates to the Reformed churches and church alliances and thus also take part in all supraregional decisions. On the one hand, this certainly leads to a great fragmentation within the Reformed community, but on the other hand, both individuals and the separate parishes are, in this special way, taken notice of and taken seriously.

World Alliance of Reformed Churches, 150 route de Ferney, PO Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland

Tel.: +41 22 791 6240 Fax: +41 22 791 6505

A Short History of the Reformed Churches



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Last changes: 2003-05-15 /fas
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