A long history where we constantly see traces of the Lord’s work


By Alessandra Trotta, Riforma-


A student of the Waldensian Teology School asked me a few days ago about the reasons for the election, approved by the 1975 Integration Agreement of keeping a central role for the name “Waldensian” to indicate the eclesiastic reality born from the Union of Waldensian and Methodist churches, instead of using (as done by united protestant churches in other countries) a name that was not characterized by a confessional reference that intentionally reminds of “the characteristics of the Waldensian churches and movement just as attested to by their history and place in the protestant testimony in Italy.”

The 50th anniversary of the Integration Agreement will offer many oppportunities next year to illustrate the meaning and motivations of the original unity ecumenic model in diversity created by such Agreement. In the beginning of this year full of initiatives joined by the moto Valdesi 850anni (Waldensians 850 years), it is important to start from the
imaginarium, feelings, continuity of morals and commitment of testimony of a name that comes from the name of an intiator of an evangelization movement and renovation in the 12th century, that soon penetrated Italy and beyond the narrow limits of the Western Alps Valleys, where it was the only one capable of resisting the worst persecutions as centuries went by.

This is the name of an initiatior -it’s worth noting- that has not been made into a myth, that has not been made holy (as has happened with other important personalities of a long and thrilling history.) Careful to avoid the mortal risk of santifying or predicating our history, but convinced that in this human history, not just on its pages of glory and greatness, but also in their falls and contradictions, in their light and shadows, in their greatness and miseries,
traces can be found of the liberation works carried out constantly by the Lord, whose memory is worth passing on, generation to generation, to whom today can feel part of that history of faith, despite being born in the 21st century or come from far away places and from different backgrounds, to live, their own faith, in this country.

A name which reminds of the events of a small population that tells an important part of the Italian and European history of the fight for the fundamental human rights, for the freedom of expression; a population that, from a loved land, where massacres ocurred, as well as exiles and homecomings, from the experience of being locked in a gheto, felt the resposibility of creating a land of welcoming and freedom.

A name that speaks o fan evangelization that was soon enough lay. Lay because it rejected the idea of a clerical body that could be invested with special powers and permissions. Lay, because it has believed in a faith that found in public spaces, in everyday relationships of common life the privileged place where God’s grace can be experimented and the call and mission of the evangelic announcement can be lived. Lay, because it is free from any mediation and subordination to absolute human authorities. Lay, because it is not cult-like. Lay, because it is passionate about the commitment of citizens in the Polis, that has not sucumbed to the temptation of mixing powers (civilian and religious) or of giving, in the name of God, a justification for legitimizing violent and exclusive nationalisms.

A name that speaks of crucial decisions, sometimes dramatic, made many times within a movement and then a church that could discuss (maybe much more than today) about different guidelines that confronted the most crucial topics.

In a few words, a name that reminds of a warm faith experience, collective, that believes in a unity that does not call for uniformity and is nos guaranteed by the obedience to absolute powers, but founded on a bond of solidarity and collaboration thath needs diversified gifts, of freedom of investiagiont, of critical comparison, of a communion that can
go beyond borders and walls that divide and segregate, because, truly, (to use the beatigul expression from the preamble of the Waldensian Orden General Disciplines) “in mutual charity the only lordship of Christ is manifested to all.”

A precious legacy of faith, hope and love, founded and nurished by a constant personal and communitary relationship with the Scriptures, where the resources of discerning, encourahement and consciousness of call necessary for facing the enourmous challenges of today, can be extracted, trusting the promess of the Lord that those who await in Him
“will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah, 40, 31).

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