The new secretary general of the World Communion of Reformed Churches is Canadian-born Rev. Christopher Ferguson.
The WCRC said in a statement this week Ferguson was installed as the general secretary at a worship service on Sunday, May at the Reformed Church in Hannover, Germany.
"The WCRC is at the edge of a new moment of renewal and transformation. It is exciting and uplifting to be called to be part of this renewed commitment to communion and justice," said Ferguson.
He will begin his duties on August 1 after moving from Columbia, where he is currently located.
'It is critical that in this new location we have somebody who has solid ecumenical networking to sustain the visibility and work of the WCRC. Chris has this, as well as ecumenical experience on all levels, from the local to the global,' said Rev. Jerry Pillay, president of the WCRC.
The WCRC left Geneva, often called the city of Calvin and viewed as the center of the ecumenical movement, in December after 65 years and opened new offices in Hannover.
Ferguson was ordained to the ministry in the United Church of Canada, and has served in Canada, the Middle East, various parts of Latin America, and at the United Nations in New York.
The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit congratulated the 61-year-old Ferguson, who represented the WCC at the United Nations, on his social justice credentials.
'COMMITTED TO JUSTICE'
"As a communion of churches deeply committed to justice, the long tradition of this ministry is well assured with the election of Rev. Chris Ferguson.
"His gospel commitment to social justice, economic justice and peace-building will surely be a hallmark of his leadership," said Tveit in his statement that was read as a message Ferguson's installation.
Rev. Setri Nyomi, the current WCRC general secretary said, "I think he will bring gifts to move this organization forward as a communion committed to justice.
"I''ve known Chris for many years and believe he is the right person for this position in this time and place."
Nyomi has served the maximum of two terms (14 years) as the general secretary of both the WCRC and its predecessor organization, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. He will remain in office through the end of August.
At the time the decision to relocate the WCRC offices was announced at the end of 2102 the body said its executive committee was responding to concerns it had about the high cost of running an organization in Switzerland.
Since the financial crisis of 2008 the Swiss franc has been used as a currency of safe haven and it has climbed steeply making Switzerland, and especially Geneva and Zurich, expensive cities from which to operate.
The WCRC said it expected to save about 200,000 Swiss francs ($222,000) a year by its move.
Some ecumenical supporters in Geneva expressed private misgivings that such an amount in savings, when currencies fluctuate, did not justify a moved to a city in Germany's north often seen as a center for Lutherans.
They also said the WCRC would lose the benefits of Geneva where the World Council of Churches, other ecumenical organizations, a number of United Nations and international organizations and scores of civil society groups are based.
The WCRC represents Presbyterian, Congregational, Reformed, Waldensian, Uniting, and United churches with an estimated combined membership of 80 million people.