17 April 2024, Cape Coast, Ghana: Rev. Merlyn Hyde Riley preaches during a prayer of lament and reconciliation in the Cape Coast Cathedral. 


Inspired by the local context in Ghana, the gathering set out to reflect on the brokenness of the world, and what it means to bear Christian witness in such a fractured world, so – as the theme of the event reflects – “That the world may know” (John 17:23b). 

On 17 April, participants remembered the history of human slavery through a visit to Cape Coast Castle – a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the fortresses built by European colonial powers as a final point of departure for the men, women, and children who were sold into chattel slavery.


Rev. Dr J. Anthony Taylor II of the Church of God in Christ (Pentecostal) shares a word of prayer and lament as he and a group of other people gather to place a wreath of flowers in what used to be the female slave cell of Cape Coast Castle.


In a prayer of lament and reconciliation in the nearby Wesley Methodist Cathedral at Cape Coast, Rev. Merlyn Hyde Riley of the Jamaica Baptist Union and vice moderator of the World Council of Churches central committee, preached on the importance of the global ecumenical movement today working to restore and uphold human dignity. 

“Again and again, we see that the God revealed in the scriptures, champions the call of the oppressed,” Hyde Riley observed. “This means that…structures and forces which create inequity, increase vulnerability, and which result in dehumanization and brokenness, must be resisted, dismantled, and destroyed in the pursuit of justice.”


People gather in the Cape Coast Cathedral for a prayer of lament and reconciliation after visiting Cape Coast Castle. 


Seeing the 240 participants of the Global Christian Forum before her in church, Hyde Riley continued: “May God help all of us, to leave from here committed to defend human dignity, to display integrity, and demonstrate solidarity, so that together we may be able to move from a place of brokenness to a place of healing and reconciliation.” 

For Rev. Stacey Duensing Pearce of the Reformed Church in America, the experience was profound: “In our prayer, we are committing ourselves to doing the work of Jesus in the world, of following his path of love, justice and peace, instead of following the path of complicity and silence in the face of injustice.” 

Fast-tracking inclusivity 25 years in, at an ever-widening table

A celebration and prayer service at Action Chapel international – a Pentecostal church in Accra, Ghana – marked 25 years of the Global Christian Forum on 18 April. 


Ecumenical prayer service at Action Chapel international, a Pentecostal church in Accra, Ghana.


Messages from around the world described the Global Christian Forum’s significance and impact over the past decades. 

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople shared greetings saying that “the Global Christian Forum has proven to be a gift of the power of the Spirit through its worthy initiatives in promoting dialogue and cooperation among believers in their journeys towards Christ and Unity in Faith and Spirit.”

Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church shared a message describing the forum as “a beautiful mosaic of contemporary Christianity with its rich diversity while still founded on our shared identity as followers of Jesus Christ.” 

And Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, former general secretary of the WCC, observed that the forum has been “able to generate a new spirit of respect and trust between all those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ and thus to strengthen their common witness in the contemporary world.”

Attending the Global Christian Forum for the first time, Rev. Armstrong Pitakaji of the United Church in the Solomon Islands, observed that the forum has come to show that divisions that may persist at the local level do not necessarily reflect division among church traditions globally. 

“It’s a great joy for me to see two church traditions here who used to be divided in the past at the national level and our local context, that when I see them in this global context I see them united. Doctrinal and theological barriers are crumbling down, by the love of God that unites us,” Pitakaji said.  

Yet while much has been achieved over the past decades, challenges still do remain. 

Gertrude Fefoame of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, a member of the World Council of Churches commission on World Mission and Evangelism and the Ecumenical Disabilities Advocates Network addressed the forum on the issue of inclusivity. 

“Christ is willing to heal, and all of us need to be willing to be part of that process of healing, so that we stop segregation, discrimination… We need affirmative action that embraces more disability and marginalized groups. Congratulations to those who have come this far with us, but we know that we need to fast-track this, for people currently at the margins to come to the center,” she observed.


Gertrude Fefoame pictured addressing the fourth global gathering of the Global Christian Forum taking place in Accra, Ghana.


Rev. Dr Jennifer S. Leath of the African Methodist Episcopal Church said she hopes the forum will “never narrow, but always expand the table.” 

“The GCF is making a way for people to come to the table in conversation who had not been in conversation before, and that is by itself quite a profound and revolutionary act and work, because there are so many reason that we can choose not to sit together,” she added. 

“What is so beautiful in this space is that there is a recognition, that Jesus is not the same for each of us. Jesus is manifested in each of our lives in different ways – maybe as redeemer, as employer, as personal confidant, friend, neighbour, or as liberator – but we all recognize Jesus in what one another are sharing,” Leath said.  

“Our work is rooted in this dialogical process, of getting to know each other, through how we have come to know Jesus,” she said.

Photo gallery

WCC general secretary underlines “shared vocation to participate in the prophetic mission of Christ” as Global Christian Forum opens | World Council of Churches (