“It is significant that several united churches around the world are already members of both bodies and have been a voice encouraging us to pursue closer relationships in the future,” said Robert Welsh, the general secretary of DECC. The president of the WARC is former Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick.
The Geneva-based WARC said in an Aug. 11 statement that leaders of the two groups had agreed at a meeting in Nashville, Tenn., at the end of July, to continue talking about “the development of a comprehensive partnership in pursuit of the visible unity of the Church.”
WARC General Secretary Setri Nyomi said the Nashville meeting marked a “potentially significant” step in the pursuit of Christian unity. “We welcome this important move.”
WARC has roots in the 16th-century Reformation led by John Calvin, John Knox and others, as well as in earlier church reform movements such as the Waldensians in the Piedmont valleys of Italy, and the followers of Jan Hus in the Czech lands. It brings together 75 million Christians in 214 churches.
The Disciples of Christ (which in some parts of the world is known as Churches of Christ) grew out of an early 19th century movement with origins in both the United Kingdom and the U.S.A. The DECC is a council of 19 Disciples of Christ, Churches of Christ, United and Uniting churches established in 1979, and represents 4.5 million Christians around the world.
In October 2007, WARC agreed to merge with the Reformed Ecumenical Council, with which it has an overlapping membership, to form the World Communion of Reformed Churches in 2010.
The DECC member churches are to consider a proposal that DECC become an associate member of WCRC to allow closer ties in relation to the programs and governance of the new communion of churches.