Reformed Churches-Pentecostal Dialogue

Press Release

May 21, 1996

The World Alliance of Churches (WARC) and members from several different branches of the Pentecostal Movement met in Italy to begin a five year International Reformed-Pentecostal Dialogue. Convened by Henry Wilson (WARC-Geneva, Switzerland) and Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. (Pentecostal-Pasadena, Ca., U.S.A.), this WARC sponsored dialogue is the first international meeting between the Reformed and Pentecostal communities. The dialogue was hosted by the Waldensian Church at its retreat center, Foresteria Valdese, in Tore Pellice, Italy, May 15-20, 1996.

This dialogue seeks to (1) increase understanding of respect, (2) identify areas of theological agreement, convergence, or disagreement, and (3) explore possibilities for common witness. At this meeting, participants chose to pursue these purposes under the theme of "Spirituality and the Challenges of Today."

Richard Israel (Pentecostal-U.S.A.) And Henry Wilson (Reformed-India and Switzerland) explored "Spirituality and Interpretation of Scripture." "Spirituality and Justice" was addressed by Abival Pires da Silveira (Reformed-Brazil) and Anthea Butler (Pentecostal-U.S.A.). Dan Albrecht (Pentecostal-U.S.A.) And Aldo Comba (Reformed-Italy) presented their findings on "Spirituality and Ecumenism." Participants noted two important areas of common ground, the central role the Bible plays, and the importance of the Holy Spirit in proclamation and praxis.

Other participants included: Solomon D.L. Alagodi (Reformed-India), Arto Antturi (Pentecostal-Finland), David Daniels (Pentecostal-U.S.A.), Harold Hunter (Pentecostal-U.S.A.), Frank D. Macchia (Pentecostal-U.S.A.), Cephas Omenyo (Reformed-Ghana), Jean-Daniel Pluss (Pentecostal-Switzerland), Silvia Rostango (Reformed-Italy), and Jan Veenhof (Reformed-Switzerland).

Through the week, participants worshipped together and were guests of several Waldensian congregations in the area. They brought greetings from their respective traditions to the local congregations. Their visits to historical Waldensian sites also enriched the dialogue.

The WARC includes 198 member churches in 99 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 spiritual gifts, Pentecostals have grown into a world-wide movement.

The second meeting will be held in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., May 10-16, 1997. The theme of the meeting will be "The Role and Place of the Holy Spirit in the Church." Of particular concern will be the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the Bible, the work of the Spirit in proclamation, and the manifestation of charisms of the Spirit within the Church.