Reformed Churches: FSPC Assembly of Delegates at Ittingen Charterhouse

The Delegates of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FSPC) convened from June 19 to 21 in Warth (Canton Thurgau). The Assembly was held in the spirit of continuity.
The FSPC Delegates take a vote. Photo: Anja Graf

The Church Council President of the hosting Thurgau Church, Rev. Wilfried Bühler, welcomed about 70 Delegates of the 26 FSPC member churches and their guests. “Whoever steps through the charterhouse gates enters a new world.” 

Election to the Council
As Lini Sutter-Ambühl, who has been a member of the FSPC Council for six years, announced her resignation, the Delegates elected Rev. Ulrich Knoepfel of the Canton of Glarus as her successor. Mr. Knoepfel will take office on January 1, 2017, for the rest of the 2015-2018 legislative period. The new Council member is a jurist and a theologian and, as the church Council President of the Glarus Cantonal Church, is experienced in executive matters.

Message of the Council President
In his remarks, Council President Gottfried Locher addressed the second of the four Reformed “solas”: “Solus Christus, by Christ alone.” “Those who call themselves Christians absolutely cannot avoid Christ – not in their personal faith, and not in their public confession.” With Christ, we live among people who live without Christ: That is and has been normal Christian existence in many places of human civilization and at many times in its history. But this Christ is only real if he also gains meaning for those who do not believe or who have different beliefs,” Locher stated. The full text of the remarks (in German) can be found here.

Motion by the Church of St. Gallen
The Delegates accepted a motion by the Evangelical Reformed Church of the Canton of St. Gallen. This motion petitions the FSPC to establish a committee to address the current topics of “Family, Marriage, Partnership, Sexuality” from a Protestant-Reformed perspective. At the suggestion of the Neuenburg Church, the question of the taxation of spouses will also be included.

Statement on the WCC study on common understanding of church
The Delegates took note of the FSPC statement on the study by the World Council of Churches (WCC) on “The Church: Towards a Common Vision.” The statement focuses on the issues of “Church” and “Unity and Diversity” while also addressing the passages on “Ministry and Authority” and “Church and Society.”  It expresses both agreement and reservations and extrapolates challenges for the Reformed Churches in Switzerland. The Delegates recommend that the member churches discuss the FSPC statement in the parishes.

Presentation of the Global Christian Forum
The Delegates welcomed Rev. Larry Miller, Secretary General of the Global Christian Forum, to their Assembly. As the youngest platform of the ecumenical movement, the forum offers opportunities for exchange between traditional churches and more recently established movements, particularly evangelical ones.  The forum’s goal is to promote unity through personal encounters.

2015 Annual Financial Statement and Report
The fiscal year of 2015 closed with a revenue surplus of 29,000 CHF. The Delegates accepted both the annual financial statement and the activity report, both of which are structured according to the FSPC’s legislative goals.

Scale of Contributions
The scale of contributions governs the amount each FSPC member church is obliged to pay in contributions. In the past few years, the scale of contributions has been subject to intense discussions in a time of financial difficulties for many member churches. The Delegates approved the new scale.