Reformed church

  On the road towards 2033, with the Reformed churches At the assembly of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) in Leipzig in July, Martin Hoegger participated as an accredited journalist. A great opportunity to share the vision of "Jesus Celebration 2033" with delegates from reformed churches spanning 100 countries.  Here is a brief Reformed world tour! Let's start with some WCRC officials!

The WCRC President, South African pastor Jerry Pillay reacted immediately when discovering the project “It's a brilliant vision! Unity is so important to me! I congratulate you on visiting the leaders of the churches. Go forward ! And let’s keep in touch!”

Sylvana Maria Apituley , Indonesian professor of theology and a vice-president of the WCRC, said  "The Church is very divided in Indonesia. How can we be witnesses if we are divided? This important project focuses on Christ and will help us walk toward more unity".

Chris Ferguson , the Executive Secretary of WCRC. When hearing of all the people we have visited, said: "They are leaders with whom we are in permanent contact. Your vision is exciting. Continue this way ! " 


Chris worked for several years in Jerusalem and offered his advice for our next trip to Jerusalem (September 18 to 26): "Don’t just visit the heads of churches, but also the lay movements! That's how we work everywhere at WCRC. "

Africa: returning to the heart of our faith

African Pastor André Karamaga , General Secretary of the Conference of Churches of all Africa said "In Africa the churches are divided, but if they are offered such a project, they will be interested in collaborating. That will get them going.”

The next day, André expressed that he will reflect on how to introduce this vision to the Conference of Churches in Africa.

I also had the joy of meeting Pastor Léonard Kinda, with whom I studied at the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey. He is responsible for ecumenical relations in his Reformed Church in Burkina Faso: "This project must be carried by young people. Any event in the name of Jesus will mobilize them. We must start now by forming prayer groups." In a Muslim-majority country, he has already experienced that bringing Christians together is also a testimony. “Since the resurrection of Christ, paradise has begun because he is among us. "


Ammi Irako, president of the large Reformed Church of Madagascar, does not hide his enthusiasm: "It is a vision of God! God willing I will participate. This returns us to the very heart of our faith. There is nothing more wonderful than the risen Christ. Putting this is the center is all the more important as our eyes are drawn to so many other things."

At the end of the prayer for peace in the Church S. Nicholas of Leipzig, I met Jacobus Gerber. He was secretary-general of the Dutch Reformed Church and worked extensively on reconciliation in his country. He is now working with the South African Council of Churches.

He welcomes the vision immediately. I show him my business card with the logo of JC2033 and even before I tell him anything, he understands what it is! "I will immediately share this vision with the Council of Churches. They are excellent and will help us. This is the kind of vision we need for the peace and unity of our country." He told me repeatedly that we must stay in touch and that he will invite us to present JC2033 to the Council of Churches in South Africa.

I also had several interviews with some young delegates, youth leaders from their church, Alexandre Malap from Cameroon, Pedro Quinanga from Angola and Chan Yoo, a young Korean who came as a child to South Africa. All told me that they will share this vision with young people when they return home. Indeed JC2033 is primarily intended for young people! I am happy to see their enthusiasm.

Asia: sharing the joy of the resurrection

Meals are great times to get to know each other. Pastor Obaid Aftab, works at Transworld Radio, a mission that broadcasts programs in Pakistan, particularly for the Taliban. "I receive as many testimonials of new lives as threats" he says. He is excited by the missiological dimension of JC2033: "How grateful I am for the time of friendship and communion that we have been able to live" he wrote saying “ I am constantly praying for you and looking forward to work with you to spread His Word."


I also met Henny William Booth Sumakul, professor of theology and president of a large church in Indonesia - the country with the largest number of Reformed Churches (27 in all!) and the most Reformed Christians (more than eight million) ... after China!

He looks forward to the project's unity and evangelistic dimension. He is waiting for us and wants to help us visit the churches: "I dream of a great celebration bringing together all the Christians in my country and that together we would testify of the risen Jesus."

Shuhei Oishi is a young Japanese pastor lodging in the same hotel. On three occasions we walked to the place of the Assembly. He is completing a doctoral thesis in Old Testament that he began in Zurich. We speak in German, not in Japanese! "What I like is that this project is for young people. In Japan, churches are a small minority, less than 1% of the population. This vision will help them share the joy of resurrection with the people." He noted that Buddhists are particularly affected by Jesus' confidence in the face of death. His word "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" impacts them, like his resurrection, light against the fear of death.

Pacific: a path of Emmaus towards 2033

After the prayer for peace in Leipzig, in the tramway taking me back to my hotel, I met Pastor Richard Dawson, president of the Aotearoa Presbyterian Church in New Zealand: "It's a wonderful idea to touch the young generation. It is now that we must start. Sixteen years is not that far, time goes so fast. Come to New Zealand to talk to the churches!” I saw him again two days later in front of the famous Church of the castle of Wittenberg where Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses.


Tara Tautara is a Maori from New Zealand and chairs the "Consensus and Discernment " Committee of the WCRC Assembly. A key person for its development! I interviewed her about this "consensus method" and at the end of the interview I told her about 2033: "2033, I never thought about it! Recently I preached about Jesus meeting with the disciples of Emmaus. The pilgrimage towards 2033 is also a path of Emmaus, where we have to make room for the Risen One among us. He will lead us, enlighten us, inspire us how to do it! Am I ready to recognize it ... or will my eyes be closed?”

Europe: talking to young people 

During a lunch in the big hall of the Leipzig fair, I sat down with Gottfried Locher, president of both the Federation of Protestant Churches in Switzerland (FEPS) and the Communion of Protestant Churches in Europe. He does not hide his surprise hearing of the project. After a moment of reflection, he explains how this date is very different from the jubilee of the 500 years of the Reformation: "Like 2017, 2033 is also a historical date, but of more global significance. 2033 refers to the resurrection of Christ which is the center of the Christian faith. He is the one who unites all Christians." For the moment he cannot say more; he must think about it and proposes to re-contact him on this subject.

Serge Fornerod, director of external relations of FEPS recommends I visit the Reformed Churches one by one, as there is no central authority like in the Catholic Church or a figure as the patriarch of Constantinople. "It's good to do it well in advance because it takes time to progress. The project will gradually develop in the dialogue." he tells me. "It's not just a celebration among church leaders, but talking to the world. And then you must also think after 2033 ... What will happen in 2034? "

For Catherine McMillan, also delegate of the FEPS, she likes that this project can touch the young people. “I will talk to my son" she told me during the beautiful ecumenical celebration in the Church of Wittenberg for the signing of the Joint Declaration on Justification.

It is also this aspect that rejoices Renata Bareikiene , delegate of one of the smallest Reformed Churches, that of Lithuania. She fears that her Church will disappear soon, because it is not renewed. The youth desert the church after their confirmation. "Such a project gives me hope. I will talk about it at my synod.”

The vision of JC2033 suggests to Noro Andrianalizah, delegate of the Evangelical Reformed Church of France, three words: "Relevance, visibility and testimony. We should not stay amongst ourselves, but go out, organizing a common diaconal action throughout the world. For example, all churches could offer a free meal on the same day. A globalization of love! Then to testify by the word after having acted by the acts of love. " 



By showing my business card with the logo JC2033, Jacoline, a young delegate from the Netherlands, first thought of an apocalyptic movement related to the return of Christ! I reassured her that JC2033 has no connection with any speculation about his return. Then we were able to have a constructive exchange.

In presenting this vision, I also received questions, like the pastor who shared with me that he had doubts about the resurrection of Christ. His participation in the assembly was not because of Christ, rather for the theme of justice. 

If putting Christ in the center has been the heart of the Reformation, we have added many superstructures! A project like JC2033 pointing to the risen Christ reminds us that the Reformation is never finished: "semper reformanda "!

Americas: a sign of communion


On the bus to Wittenberg, I had a good talk with an American delegate, Jennifer Haddox. She advises us to visit the Protestant churches in the USA who are experiencing a spiritual renewal. Also the ecumenical councils of Churches. "This project excites me and gives me joy in my heart because it focuses on Christ: He alone can unite us." The missiological dimension also appeals to her as she is responsible for world mission in her church.

Elsa Tamez led two remarkable Bible studies during the assembly. I had the pleasure to meet her. We have discovered many common points and friendships: she did a doctorate in Lausanne and is currently working with Bible Societies in Latin America. "I will share this amazing project with the Bible Society when I return to Colombia " she stated.

The final noteworthy meeting came with Fr. Avelino Gonzalez Ferrer, associate at the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and observer for the Catholic Church at this meeting. I did not need to explain to him at length the meaning of the year 2033, he immediately made the link with 1933 and 1983 which were holy years to celebrate the 1900 and 1950 years of the resurrection of Christ.



written by: Martin Hoegger, July 26, 2017