The world's largest association of Reformed churches can now break bread together as the World Communion of Reformed Churches following the merger of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Reformed Ecumenical Council.
The union, celebrated in June during a global assembly at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich., represents 80 million Christians from 108 countries, in nearly 230 denominations worldwide.
"We live in a world that is fragmented and filled with conflict," said WARC President Clifton Kirkpatrick, a former stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). "I cannot think of a better time to have what we accomplished today [become reality]."
The convention attracted about 1,000 people from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, Middle East and Pacific.
After more than 90 minutes of debate, a constituting document was amended to require half a church's delegates to the WCRC's general council meetings' to be women. The drafting committee's recommendation was one-third women.
Smaller churches, with fewer than 100,000 members, also saw the size of their delegations increased. Larger delegations already were mandated to include at least one delegate 30 or younger.
Peter Borgdorff, REC president, said a U.S. immigration worker denied visas to 73 delegates and students from Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Mexico and other regions of the world despite reported assurances earlier there would be no red tape. He said it was unclear why they were denied access to the U.S. and vowed to find out.
© 2015 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers