World Council of Churches (WCC) General Secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has told participants at the Global Christian Forum’s Third (GCF) Global Gathering in Bogota, Colombia that the GCF is remarkable in building trust among participants and opening ways for new forms of cooperation.
The director of the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission Rev. Dr Odair Pedroso Mateus delivered a message from Tveit on 24 April, the opening day of the forum gathering which has the theme “Let mutual love continue” (Hebrews 13:1).
The third GCF Global Gathering is taking place April 23 – 28 and it is bringing together some 250-300 church leaders reflecting the breadth and depth of world Christianity.
In his message, Tveit outlined the development of the WCC in the GCF noting, that GCF’s trust building among its participants has enabled the opening of new forms of cooperation.
The WCC general secretary said that the trust had “notably improved” and there were more extensive relations and cooperation between partners that had “few or difficult relations before”.
He noted that 2018 is a year of anniversaries for the WCC. It is the 20th anniversary of the first steps to create the Global Christian Forum and the WCC is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its founding of in Amsterdam.
Tveit said that in August 1998, before the WCC’s Harare assembly a group of 28 “visionary and committed people” met at the Ecumenical Institute at Château de Bossey, near Geneva to develop a proposal for a “forum of Christian churches and ecumenical organizations”.
They represented the WCC, Christian world communions, regional ecumenical organizations, national councils of churches, international ecumenical organizations, and churches that were not associated with ecumenical structures from Evangelical, Pentecostal and charismatic traditions.
“They recognized that fellowship in Christ transcends membership in a fellowship of churches such as the WCC,” said Tveit.
Mutual love, he said, cannot be reserved to my community, to my faith tradition or nation.
“It flows out of God’s love for this world like the rivers of life in the beautiful image of the new creation in the book of the Revelation to John,” said Tveit.
He observed that the intention of the GCF was to broaden the circle beyond existing structures, but not to create a new movement and that the constitutional basis of the WCC was to become the common ground for participation in the forum envisaged.
The participating groups declared, said Tveit, “Participation will be based on confessing the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures and seeking to fulfil together the common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
Taking stock of the journey
Taking stock of their journey together over the last 20 years, representatives of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU), the WCC, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), and the World Pentecostal Fellowship (WPF) met last year near Geneva.
“They affirmed the character of the GCF as a shared space, a forum, gathering people to build relations, to address issues of common concern and interest and to stimulate better relations between partners involved,” said the WCC head.
He added that it would be misleading to look at it as an organization or a group with a mandate to pursue alternative ecumenism or make statements on behalf of the partners.
“I am confident that we will experience again here in Bogota the great gift of the GCF for building trust, renewing the commitment to cooperation and experiencing the bond of mutual love in Christ through the presence of the Holy Spirit,” said Tveit.