Theologians from the Reformed church tradition worldwide are gathering in northeast Switzerland this week to reflect on priority issues for theological study in the coming year, a time of change in the global ecumenical movement.

“We will be asking ourselves how best to set priorities for theological reflection that will address current concerns facing the Reformed church movement as well as the broader ecumenical environment, “ says Douwe Visser of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC).

Visser has organized a consultation of theologians underway in Rüdlingen from March 3-8. The meeting of WCRC’s Theologians’ Network is expected to attract 22 participants from 15 countries. Approximately 20 per cent are under age 35.

The Dutch theologian who heads WCRC’s Office of Theology and Communion has responsibility for interchurch dialogue as well as for the formation of theology students and new pastors for leadership in the global church movement.

The consultation coincides with the year in which the World Council of Churches will hold a global assembly in Busan, South Korea to consider the future direction of global ecumenism.

This is also the year in which WCRC is preparing to move its offices from Geneva, Switzerland ― a city closely associated with the Protestant Reformation and one of its early leaders, John Calvin ― to Hanover, Germany, a city known in church circles for its connections to Lutheranism. The new office is scheduled to open in January 2014.

“During our meeting in Rüdlingen, we will consider how we give a theological motivation for the relocation and what new challenges it brings,” says Visser.

The agenda for the five day meeting includes drafting plans for the next session of the Global Institute for Theology for new pastors and theology graduate students in 2014.  The biennial event offers intensive training in ecumenical theology and dialogue.

Discussion will also include considering a new model for ongoing bilateral dialogues between Reformed church theologians and Lutherans, Catholics and Pentecostals, a model that intentionally involves emerging young ecumenists.

Papers presented at the consultation will be published in an upcoming issue of Reformed World, WCRC’s journal of theological reflection.

The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) represents 80 million Christians in 108 countries. Through WCRC, member churches engage in ecumenical dialogue, promotion of church unity, theological study and worldwide initiatives addressing climate change, economic justice and gender justice and church mission.