Ecumenical and Interfaith Committee endorses development of model for inter-church partnerships
Louisville, Kentucky- The Committee for Ecumenical and Interfaith Engagement of 225e The General Assembly concluded its work around noon today after approving a recommendation from the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations (GACEIR) that it create a “Global Alliance Agreement” (AGC) at the over the next two years. The agreement is to provide a model for creating formal partnerships with other denominations around the world. The vote was 27-0.
The GCA proposal (ECU-02) is a holdover from the 2020 General Assembly, which, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, deferred most of its business to this year’s assembly.
The process of developing the GCA began in 2016, Presbyterian Church (USA) ecumenical leader Dianna Wright told the committee, and continued through the 2018 assembly, which called for GACEIR to explore the possibility of developing an alliance relationship with the Gereja Masehi Injili. di Minahasa Church (GMIM) in Indonesia.
“Because of all the conversations we were having with various partner churches,” Wright explained, “in 2020, GACEIR thought the way to resolve all of this was to establish a GCA with a basic formula on how to engage in these conversations and negotiations”.
The GCA goal – which will be presented to the 2024 General Assembly for approval and implementation – “will be flexible enough that we can tailor each covenant to the realities of partner churches and our relationships with them,” said Wright.
In a related action, the committee voted to respond to an overture from the New York Rectory (ECU-03) seeking a specific alliance with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ghana (EPCG) through its action to create a GCA. Thus, the Ghana partnership will be subject to the same rubric as the committee adopted for the other partner churches, including the GMIM. That vote was 24-2.
Robert Foltz-Morrison, director of the New York City Rectory, briefed the committee on the long history of relations between the EPCG and the Presbytery. “There are decades of relationship between the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Ghana and our presbytery and others, culminating in a meeting in Baltimore in 2019 which cemented the desire for this openness,” he said. , noting that two Ghanaian congregations with roots in the EPCG have chartered to the rectory in New York and two more are preparing to charter. “There are more than a dozen others in eight states that are moving in the same direction,” Foltz-Morrison added.
Philip Woods, staff member of the Presbyterian World Mission, said the desire of the Indonesian and Ghanaian churches to enter into formal alliances with the PC (USA) “reflects the global internationalization of the Church” as migration world creates “diaspora” communities around the world. Woods added: “All the churches we are considering [for GCAs] are members of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, so we already have many mutual agreements. We prefer this standard model (GCA)” to ad hoc agreements.
With the EPCG General Assembly scheduled for August this year, the committee encouraged the actions of the Ghanaian church with the comment, “We would like to thank the EPCG for its continued partnership with the PC (USA) and look forward to developing an alliance agreement with the EPCG and other global partners.