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Pentecostal World Conference, address by Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit spoke during the opening day of the 24th Pentecostal World Conference, in São Paulo, Brazil, on 7 September 2016.

09 September 2016

7-10 September 2016, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit was invited by Prince Guneratnam, chairman of the Pentecostal World Fellowship (PWF), to offer greetings at the PWF Fellowship Dinner on 7 September, during which Rev. Dr Isak Burger, PWF vice chairman, served as master of ceremony.

President Prince Guneratnam,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is a privilege for me personally and as the general secretary of the World Council of Churches to bring greetings to you and to be here with you tonight for this fellowship dinner and time of prayer. I have given this a priority in my calendar.

I am thankful to Brother Prince Gunertnam for his invitation to join the 24th Pentecostal World Conference. I am also deeply grateful for the work we have done together in fostering a fruitful collaboration in Christ between the World Council of Churches and the Pentecostal World Fellowship, particularly through the Global Christian Forum, but also through your participation in our assembly in Busan.

Today, we see the horizon of a new era of mutual recognition between our movements. We are compelled by faith to walk together, pray together and serve together if we are to truly be an answer to Christ’s prayer “that all may be one, so the world might believe” (John 17:21).

You have as Pentecostals been brave in your preaching that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a transformative message. Salvation has dimensions we can experience as a fruit of the cross and the resurrection, already, now. You have been strongly emphasizing that our faith is also to hope for more than what we can see just now. This has also been a significant dimension of the work of the WCC for the unity of the church. This unity should reflect the gifts of the Spirit, the joy, and the freedom from injustice and violence that God calls us to work and pray for. Sometimes I have a feeling that John 17 is read as a call to be one so that the world may believe that we never disagree as Christians. But it is a call to be one so that the world may believe that there is hope in Jesus Christ, hope for salvation, for liberation, for transformation toward justice and peace, hope for the unity of different people, women and men.

In addition to this affirmation of your strong sense of hope, I also will come to you with an invitation. As Pentecostals believing in the power of the Holy Spirit, I will invite you to receive the invitation issued by the Ecumenical Patriarch, Pope Francis, the general secretary of the WCC and other ecumenical leaders to pray and care for God’s creation. This period from September 1 to October 4 has been particularly defined as time for prayer and care for the creation. The creation of God, our common home, is under serious threats from human activities. On behalf of faith-based organizations I addressed the governments of the world in Paris at COP 21, expressing that we need to be people of hope together. Change to the better is possible. But then the world also needs the support of the people like you who believe in the transformative power of the Holy Spirit.

We have to remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit is the life-giver, active in creation from the very beginning till today. The Holy Spirit sustains us and all creatures every day. The Holy Spirit gave life to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit gives life to the Church. The Holy Spirit is working inside and outside the church, in the whole of creation, waiting for our cooperation and prayers.

As we gather here today, I hope we will listen together to what the Spirit is calling us—all Christians—to become today. The great gifts of the Pentecostal tradition—its vibrant life in the Spirit, its deep appreciation of God at work within us, its celebration of life—must be leavened to embrace the whole world of pain and possibility we find before us. It is the one and the same Spirit that is life-giving and creating every day. The churches in the world need to emphasize - like you - more of our faith in the Holy Spirit. The world needs our faith in the Holy Spirit to believe that change for the better is possible.

As Christians, we must nurture hope for our deeply imperiled world. We believe God does not abandon creation and that we ourselves can become beacons of that hope by sowing the seeds of a different future. I ask you to search your hearts and minds, individually and together, to ask: where is the greatest need, the most plaintive cry, the voice at the margins, calling us to work and to pray today? How can we be partners with the Holy Spirit, creating and sustaining life in God’s Creation and in the church?

May God bless you all as you gather here! May we continue together - as God’s pilgrims for justice and peace!

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General Secretary