The World Reformed Fellowship had its beginning in 1993 as the World Fellowship of Reformed Churches (WFRC) when the concept of a worldwide confessional fellowship of Reformed churches took concrete form. Talks between the Presbyterian Church in America, the Igreja Presbiteriana do Brasil, and the Iglesia Nacional Presbiteriana de México led to the invitation of other churches from all over Latin America and the world to join the Fellowship.
La Confraternidad Latinoamericana de Iglesias Reformadas (CLIR) was the first regional fellowship the WRF organized with an original vision of creating a fellowship for evangelical Reformed and Presbyterian churches. CLIR leaders in Latin America created opportunities for church denominations to work together in seminars, publishing, and encouraging the development of theological institutions, with the result that for the first time in history the paths of cooperation in Latin America began to run east and west rather than exclusively north and south. In recent years CLIR has desired to focus more exclusively on denominational relationships between Latin American churches, and the WRF is pleased to see that occur, while we develop and expand a new and wider regional fellowship throughout Latin America.
Latin America has experienced tremendous change in the past 30 years. These changes have helped the Gospel to be spread in many cases, but have also brought many and different challenges for Reformed churches of the region. Specific challenges include: the growth of New Age religions and the re-emphasizing of ancient pagan spirituality; increasing secularism and consumerism as the Roman Catholic Church loses power; the rise of feminism and homosexualism and the social changes occurring because of this; the tendency for many of the charismatic churches to adopt a ‘Health and Wealth’ message, influencing vast sectors of the Protestant church. These religious and social movements are tied to much unrest and pressures in the economic and political spheres of Latin countries. The Reformed churches of Latin America have traditionally not worked closely with one another due for the most part to different past histories. However, almost all of them face the same issues. The goals of the WRF are to bring confessionally Reformed churches, institutions and people into contact with one another to assist each other in missions, theological education and the defense of the faith.
Future challenges are many. The Latin America political scene is changing very fast. The role of churches in the future is still uncertain. Latin society is ‘globalizing’ at breakneck speed, bringing both the good and bad aspects of globalization. Churches often lag behind in analysis and response to these changes. Another aspect is the critical need of resources for leadership training, Christian schooling, Reformed commentaries and theological works, as well as works of apologetics. Reformed radio and television is almost non-existent. It is exciting to see many church leaders catching more and more a dynamic vision for the Church’s mission and seeking one another out to assist one another. May God be glorified and His Church edified!