The Joint Consultative Group (JCG) between Pentecostals and the World Council of Churches (WCC) finished six days of dialogue last week at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California (USA), under the leadership of its co-moderators Rev. Dr Cecil M. Robeck (Assemblies of God) and Rev. Dr. Jennifer Leath (African Methodist Episcopal Church).
The group, now in its third round of consultation since it was created nearly two decades ago, began a discussion on Christian discipleship and formation through the lead question “How does the Holy Spirit work in the church to form disciples that transform the world?”
The JCG – a consultative platform for dialogue, encouragement and cooperation between WCC member churches and Pentecostals – was created after the WCC Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1998. The group, which is comprised of half WCC member church representatives and half Pentecostals, was created to search for better ways of understanding one another, to look for new opportunities for mutual learning and action, and to share experiences of Christian witness.
Prior to this week’s discussion, the JCG concluded two rounds of consultation, reporting to the WCC Porto Alegre Assembly in 2006 and the Busan Assembly in 2013.
For its third round of dialogue the JCG determined that a study of discipleship and formation would allow the group to move from a convergence agenda – addressing the nature of the church – to a learning agenda in which an exchange of models can strengthen the churches’ witness in the world. The JCG inaugurated its third round engaged in prayer, Bible study, thematic presentations and discussion.
The group shared personal faith stories – reflections of coming to faith in Christ and being nurtured in faith through the church – as a way of building community. In the course of the meeting, the JCG worshipped at two different churches in Los Angeles – at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and at West Angeles Church of God in Christ.
The JCG study is, in part, a response to an invitation of the WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism to recommit to witnessing together to Christ. The JCG will provide a unique perspective on authentic discipleship in the light of the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism, taking place in March 2018 in Arusha, Tanzania under the theme “Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship”.
By meeting at Fuller Theological Seminary, the JCG continued its tradition of meeting in venues where it can encounter and engage with theological faculties and students.
At the end of this third round of dialogue the JCG will submit a report to the next WCC assembly in 2021, addressing the theme of discipleship and formation as well as progress in the dialogue between Pentecostals and WCC member churches.