French churches from Lutheran and Reformed traditions unite

French churches from Lutheran and Reformed traditions unite

The new United Protestant Church of France has been established

Two member churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC) from Reformed and Lutheran traditions have united to become the United Protestant Church of France.

The merger of the Reformed Church of France and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of France was celebrated at a joint national synod from 8 to 12 May in Lyon, France.

The synod adopted revised texts for the constitution and rules of the new church. The revisions reflect inputs gathered from parishes in 2011. Public education and a communication campaign have been accompanying the merger process.

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, who attended the celebration in Lyon, praised the efforts of both churches in creating one transformative structure.

He said that this undertaking “reminds us that the unity to which we are called in Christ can be hard work as well as joyful. For many of us in places far away from France your union gives hope that our own work may also bear fruit.”

“Your new church is a fruit, a harvest, of ecumenical work in the past. I want to encourage you to continue to be generous in taking up your ecumenical role locally and nationally in the sometimes quite complex ecumenical landscape,” added Tveit.

He said that the way in which Christians from diverse confessions have managed to work together in France is an inspiration for Christians elsewhere. “I am also encouraged by how your church, now united, has been so well-represented also by lay people and women in many ecumenical gatherings,” said Tveit.

Readfull text of the WCC general secretary’s speech

Outlineand audio recording of the inauguration service (in French)