May 15, 1997
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and members from several different branches of the Pentecostal Movement met in Chicago, Illinois. Meeting at McCormick Theological Seminary, the session was the second in a five year International Reformed-Pentecostal Dialogue. Convened by H.S. Wilson (WARC - Geneva, Switzerland) and Cecil M. Robeck (Pentecostal - Pasadena, CA, USA.), the meeting took place from May 11-15, 1997.
This dialogue seeks to (1) increase mutual understanding and respect, (2) identify areas of theological agreement, convergence or disagreement, and (3) explore possibilities for common witness. The theme for the meeting was "The Role and Place of the Holy Spirit in the Church."
Jan Veenhof (Reformed - Switzerland) presented a paper on "The Relation of the Holy Spirit to the Bible." Cephas Omenyo (Reformed - Ghana) and Wonsuk Ma and Julie Ma (Pentecostal - Philippines) made presentations on the role of the Spirit in proclamation and manifestations of the charismata within the Church. Ensuing dialogue included discussion of the Spirit's role in revelation and continuing revelation. Both groups found commonality in God's revelation of Jesus Christ as witnessed to in the Scripture while struggling to understand the implications of ongoing revelation for faith and practice.
As Pentecostals and Reformed Christians, the groups affirmed that the Good News of Jesus Christ is received through the community of the faithful. The community furthers the message and mission of God rooted in the Word of God and guided by the Holy Spirit. The members of the community offer their eyes, ears, mouths and hands to God and are sustained and nurtured by the Spirit and the Word. Furthermore, it is the Spirit who sovereignly bestows charisms upon the faith community as it seeks to address the diverse needs which arise in the Church, society and the world.
Through the week participants worshipped together and were guests at several Pentecostal congregations in the area. These opportunities, along with worshipping with McCormick Seminary as they celebrated the Day of Pentecost, also enriched the dialogue.
Other participants from the Reformed side were Yohan Hyun (Korea), Sydney Salins (India), Marsha Snulligan Haney (USA), Salvatore Ricciardi (Italy) and Silas Pinto (Brazil). The other Pentecostal participants were Veli-Matti Karkkainen (Finland), Harold Hunter (USA), Jean-Daniel Pluss (Switzerland), Frank Macchia (USA), Dan Albrecht (USA), Richard Israel (USA), Anthea Butler (USA) and David Daniels (USA).
The WARC includes 208 member churches in 102 countries of the world, embracing Presbyterian, Reformed, Congregational and United Churches. Emphasizing the centrality of the Word of God, they accept the historical creeds, understand the Church as the people of God and pursue bilateral theological dialogue with Christians of different traditions.
Pentecostal churches trace their origin to several early 20th century revivals. Pentecostals emphasize personal conversion, ongoing sanctification and empowerment of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and mission to the world. Stressing biblical authority and spirituality gifts, Pentecostals have grown into a world-wide movement.
The third meeting will be held in May 1998 in Switzerland. The topic of the next meeting will be "The Holy Spirit and Missions in Eschatological Perspective."