Strong Swiss franc forces Reformed church group out of Calvin’s city Geneva

November 5, 2012

Geneva, dominated by St. Peter’s Cathedral, 6 February 2007/Tom Purves)

The Swiss city of Geneva has a long history of affording refuge to religious dissenters, most notably the 16th-century reformer John Calvin, but the strong Swiss franc currency has made it hard on his followers.

The exchange rate of the Swiss franc to other currencies has forced the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) to move its global headquarters, which has a staff of seven, to Germany from the city known as “the Protestant Rome” when Calvin ruled it as a strict theocracy.

A WCRC statement on Monday said the group, which represents about 80 million Christians in Reformed, Presbyterian and other churches around the world, would move its office to Hanover by December 2013.

“Most WCRC membership fees and donations are made in euros or American dollars that have dropped in value in the past several years against the strong Swiss franc,” it said.

The move would bring savings of about 200,000 Swiss francs($212,000) a year in its 1.4 million franc budget, it added. Over the past five years, the dollar has lost around 21 percent of its value against the Swiss currency and the euro has lost about 27 percent.

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