Before the WCC 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany had come to an end, it was obvious that the Pentecostal presence this time was elevated in more than one way. Most notable was the first African Instituted Church WCC president for Africa, Rev. Dr Rufus Okikiola Ositelu, primate of the Church of the Lord (Prayer Fellowship) Worldwide in Nigeria, along with a member church of the Pentecostal World Fellowship that was added to the next central committee in the person of Rev. Dr Henri Weideman, president of the Apostolic Faith Mission (South Africa).
A master list revealed 89 Pentecostals from six continents that were registered as delegates, advisors, delegated observers, staff, stewards, observers, and participants. Whether arriving via GETI or the pre-assembly events like the youth gathering, Pentecostals took root in all facets of the assembly, from morning and evening prayers, Bible studies, home groups that echo Pentecostal cell group ministries, the prayer tent, or simply returning to the Networking Zone to get more yummy “Pentecostal candy” provided by the Council of Christian Churches in Germany.
Starting in 1961, the first Pentecostal churches to join the WCC were autochthonous Latin American churches and African Instituted Churches. Four Pentecostal delegates at Karlsruhe came from Latin American churches that joined the WCC in the 1980s and 1990s along with the Apostolic Faith Mission, who through the person of Pastor David du Plessis, was first involved with the WCC in 1952. It was another Apostolic Faith Mission minister, Pastor Frank Chikane, who set a precedent by becoming chair of the Commission of International Affairs even before the Apostolic Faith Mission was accepted in 2022.
Among those of recent history who contributed to this expanded Pentecostal presence was Rev. Prince Guneratnam, who in recent days ended his earthly sojourn. While chair of the Pentecostal World Fellowship, Rev. Guneratnam was active in central committee meetings and brought greetings to the WCC 10th Assembly known as Busan ‘13. Of equal importance was that then-WCC general secretary Bishop Dr Olav Fykse Tveit was a featured speaker at a series of Pentecostal World Conferences starting with Stockholm 2010 followed by Sao Paulo 2016 and Calgary 2019.
The Pentecostal World Fellowship delegation was led by Rev. Dr Billy Wilson, its current chair, who brought greetings to the assembly during a morning thematic plenary. Dr Wilson invited WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca to attend next month's Pentecostal World Conference hosted by the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea. Rev. Dr Billy Wilson hosted an evening meal of the Pentecostal World Fellowship delegation on Saturday. Pentecostal World Fellowship vice-chair Rev. David Wells served as an ecumenical guest for the Policy Reference Committee and moderated the first Pentecostal confessional meeting that attracted over 30 persons. Rev. Guneratnam was the chief architect of the Pentecostal World Fellowship Christian Unity Commission approved at the 2019 Pentecostal World Conference in Calgary. A large block of Pentecostals at Karlsruhe came under the umbrella of the Christian Unity Commission that now manages bilaterals and a wide range of ecumenical engagements.
New to the WCC was Rev. Prof. Dr Jacqui Grey, who spoke with conviction in the thematic plenary “The Bond of Christian Unity and the Churches’ Common Witness.” WCC veteran Rev. Prof. Dr Cecil ‘Mel’ Robeck served on four WCC Faith and Order panels, having been the sole Pentecostal to serve on this distinguished commission. There were numerous workshops involving Pentecostals, like “Social Mobility in a Pentecostal Marginalized Chilean Community.” The workshop titled “Pentecostal Ecotheology from the Margins,” organized by Rev. Dr Harold D. Hunter, featured Rev. Benjamin Jacuk, the first Alaska native from the Dena’ina Athabascan and SugpiaqIndigenous people’s groups to speak at a WCC assembly; Rev. Canon Christopher Douglas-Huriwai of Māori, descended from the eastern tribal region of New Zealand; and Rev. Dr Joel Tejedo, a Llocano originally from north of the Philippines. The evening prayer on 7 September was organized by Rev. Thilo Kierner.
It remains impossible to follow all the contributions from Pentecostals who served as GETI2022 mentors, like Ms. Tatiana Gorbacheva, and students, like Ms. Gyöngyi Mazsu, to presenters in the pre-assembly youth gathering, like Pastor Nick Elorm Ahialey-Mawusi, also the advisory team of the Just Community of Women and Men with Ms. Cecilia Castillo Nanjari. Pentecostals were keen to participate in the business sessions, hoping to contribute to discussions about the war in Ukraine, the plight of Palestine, and access to the newly formed Commission on Climate Change and Global Sustainability.