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Former pro-Apartheid church welcomed back into world ecumenical family

Posted on: July 1, 2016 10:37 AM
Dr Agnes Abuom (second from right) with representatives of the WCC’s new member churches
Photo Credit: Marianne Ejdersten / WCC

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] Thirty years after it voted to reject all forms of racism and open its membership to all Christians, the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa (DRC) has been welcomed back as a full member of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The DRC’s membership of the WCC was suspended in 1962 because of its involvement in and support for Apartheid.

The DRC is one of three new full members and two interim members of the WCC whose status was confirmed at last week’s meeting of the ecumenical body’s Central Committee.

“We are delighted to welcome these churches to the ecumenical fellowship,” the Anglican Church of Kenya’s Dr Agnes Abuom, the Moderator of the WCC Central Committee, said. “And it is a special joy to welcome back to the fellowship the Dutch Reformed Church, one of our founding member churches and now, a generation after the end of Apartheid, a partner in building a future of justice for all peoples.”

The DRC, which was founded in the 17th century and today has more than one million members, is joined by the Blantyre Synod – the south Malawian part of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian – and the Council of Baptist Churches in North East India as new full members of the WCC. The two new interim members are the Africa Brotherhood Church, from Kenya; and the Congo-based Community of Baptist Churches in Central Africa.

The WCC now has 348 churches and Christian bodies in its membership.