At the heart of the Reformed identity is the conviction that God’s Word continually speaks to a changing world. The World Communion of Reformed Churches is where over 200 member churches, each an expression of the Reformed identity in its context, come together to consider how that Word is speaking today and to bear witness to the Word that is active and live.
Membership fees and donations from member churches and church organizations are the primary sources for financing the work of WCRC. The Executive Committee works diligently to make sure that WCRC is a good steward of its resources. Along with the staff in Geneva, they encourage member churches to stay current in their membership contributions. That commitment to good financial stewardship is behind the upcoming relocation of WCRC offices to Hannover, Germany, in 2014.
Fees and donations from member churches will remain the core of WCRC’s financial support, but given the changing dynamics of funding in the member churches, WCRC needs new sources to remain vital. New people and organizations have to be invited to share, through their gifts, in the task of convening church leaders to reflect on the Reformed witness in a global economy. More church members need an invitation to participate, through their financial stewardship, in the dialogues among the Reformed community and other Christian families such as Pentecostals and Roman Catholics. Others will need to enable the work that churches are doing to stop human trafficking and to support seminary students and young pastors as they prepare to minister in the 21st century. More individuals and congregations, through their partnership, can stand in solidarity with churches that bear witness in challenging situations such as Syria and Indonesia.
WCRC is taking steps to expand involvement in its work. In 2010 the Executive Committee appointed the North American and Caribbean Endowment Trustees. In addition to overseeing a small endowment fund, this group of church leaders is charged with broadening the support of WCRC in the North American and Caribbean region. The Trustees sponsor opportunities for people in the region to learn about WCRC, such as events at denominational gatherings. They oversee an annual fund campaign, which in 2012 raised over $11,000. They work in partnership with other organizations such as the Presbyterian Foundation to strengthen the Reformed witness.
In 2012 the Executive Committee established a Development Office and charged it to come up with ways to ensure WCRC’s financial stability. The Office will work with long time partners such as church agencies and other ecumenical organizations to support projects where our work intersects. It will find new partners, such as congregations and individuals, who want to ensure that the Reformed witness remains vital in a changing world.
A global fund raising effort presents some unique challenges. Different cultures have different attitudes toward raising money. What is standard practice in one country may not be appropriate in another. But that is part of the beauty of the global church. We are all called to the common task of bearing witness to the Gospel, but that is done in ways that respect each other’s customs, heritage, and mores.
I am donating a year to get the Development Office started because I am convinced that Christ’s church needs WCRC as a living expression of Christ’s body. The Reformed communion is not the whole body, but it is an essential part, and when this part is healthy and strong, the whole body is stronger.
Steve Lytch, Director of Development