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Pacific churches struggling for justice

Reformed churches in the Pacific are deeply engaged in the struggle to bring fullness of life for all in their various contexts, says Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC).

Nyomi has just completed an 18-day visit to WARC member churches in four Pacific countries Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia during which he held many discussions with church leaders on their witness and ways in which WARC membership enhances their mission.

“I was impressed by how our churches take the prophetic nature of the gospel to heart and I was struck by their openness to hearing about new expressions of faith that come from the Reformed family around the world,” Nyomi said.

“The gospel of Jesus Christ is being lived out faithfully by our churches in the Pacific as they daily challenge the deep seated injustices in their midst. I thank God for this witness of Reformed churches.”

In Samoa he applauded the vibrant worship life of the Congregational Christian Church in Samoa and encouraged leaders there to be more open to women and men engaging in leadership together in God’s mission.

He was touched by the reception he received in New Zealand which included a traditional Maori welcome and he paid tribute to the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand for its efforts to transform theological education programs to meet current challenges in the country.

In Australia he thanked God for the ways in which the Uniting Church in Australia has been prophetically engaged, particularly on multicultural and ecumenical issues and through agencies such as the Centre for Christianity and Culture and projects that lift up the gifts of the Aboriginal communities.

“I was moved by the way the Uniting Church in Australia is creating space for all in the church, particularly for the Aboriginal people of Australia. The work and witness of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress gives wonderful testimony to this,” Nyomi said.

He also praised the church for its pioneering steps in consensus decision making and for assisting WARC in developing this process which was used at the 24th General Council held in Accra, Ghana, in 2004.

Nyomi met with the general secretary of the Australian church, Terence Corkin; James Haire, the director of the Centre for Christianity and Culture in Canberra; Sandy Yule of the Christian Unity Working Group; and Vince Ross, head of an Aboriginal project in Victoria.

In Fiji Nyomi took part in a workshop on leadership development along with Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth, executive secretary of WARC’s Office for Church Renewal, Justice and Partnership. It drew 13 church leaders from around the Pacific.

The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) brings together 75 million Reformed Christians in 214 churches in 107 countries united in their commitment to making a difference in a troubled world.