In the journey to overcome internal divisions separating Christians, the top leadership of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Pentecostal World Fellowship (PWF), World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), and the Vatican's officials for promoting Christian Unity met together for the first time, in a historic meeting, spending two days facilitating their support of the Global Christian Forum (GCF). The meeting was organised collaboratively by the WCC and the GCF.
About 25 participants considered the following questions: Where are we on the path of Christian unity in the world church today, two decades after the WCC called for a new forum for encounter and conversation between churches? What does the answer to that question suggest about next steps on the journey of churches towards greater oneness in Christ and the complementary role of each participating church and organization? The meeting was designed to facilitate common reflection on, and response to, these questions articulated in the 2016 evaluation of the relationship between the WCC and the GCF.
"The Global Christian Forum provides an effective relational platform to listen and learn from one another's historic and current story of faith. Our time at Bossey has provided an excellent opportunity to further understand one another and the vital role the GCF has, as we move into the future together," said Dr David Wells, serves as the vice-chair of the Pentecostal World Fellowship.
“The meeting at the WCC's Bossey Ecumenical Institute, has been hoped for by many for years. The power and credibility of global church's witness and service to the world is strengthened immeasurably by healing our tragic divisions. In my decades of ecumenical work, this time together is a hallmark,” said Wes Granberg-Michaelson, former general secretary of the Reformed Church in the USA and serving on the GCF's leadership team.
Bishop Efrahim Tendero, general secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance, said, “The Global Christian Forum brings us together in a spirit of faith, to meet and build up each other”.
Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, spoke of a "great meeting", encouraging participants to "continue on this path of understanding and collaboration. May the Spirit complete in us what he has begun (cf. Philippians 1:6)."
WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said, “A very good meeting with a lot of common understanding of how the Global Christian Forum has had positive effects. We have been reflecting on developments in world Christianity and, in this context, the question of how the different instruments in the search for Christian unity can complement each other. We have also articulated the role of and responsibility for the GCF as a shared instrument of unity if the GCF is faithful to it's identity as a forum.”
The call for a new forum came first from the WCC at a meeting held nearly 19 years ago, also at Bossey. GCF Secretary, Rev. Dr Larry Miller, pointed to the relational distance covered between the two meetings held in the same place. "That the Catholic Church, the PWF, the WCC, and the WEA, who together represent in some sense nearly all of world Christianity, are now ready to work hand-in-hand in a common forum is reason for profound gratitude for the past and high hope for the future."
The meeting should be seen as a consultative body preparing for the next meeting of the GCF international committee in Taizé, France, 8-13 February 2018 and the next GCF global gathering in Bogota, Colombia, 24-27 April 2018. The main discussion was focused on the role and structure of the Global Christian Forum with a clear core identity as a forum, how best to follow up Forum events, the methodology for theological reflection, enhanced communication strategies and how to include mega churches and migrant churches in the work of the GCF. A special meeting between heads of communication for the GCF, the WEA, the PWF, the Vatican and the WCC will take place to discuss cooperative communication strategies on behalf of the Forum.
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