Monday, November 05, 2007

The Global Christian Forum

One of the priests from here is currently in Nairobi attending the foundational meeting of The Global Christian Forum, an ecumenical gathering that represents, perhaps, every major Christian body/group, including "mainline" churches, evangelicals and charismatic/renewalist/Pentecostal traditions.

This is a historic meeting!

The aim is to get representatives of the broadest spectrum of Christians together to discuss possibilities of working together in order to provide a better and more credible witness to the Gospel in the 21st century. [I understand that the Forum was motivated in part by a similar gathering of Christians in the United States -- Christian Churches Together.] From the Forum's website:
In the 20th century, many churches have been able to move beyond their historical divisions into new relationships of trust, cooperation and communion. Institutions which each represent certain parts of the Christian family have emerged, such as the World Council of Churches, the World Evangelical Alliance and the Pentecostal World Fellowship. Historic denominations have entered into conversations with other world communions and churches, such as those conducted by the Catholic Church especially since the Second Vatican Council with partners ranging from the Pentecostal to the Orthodox families of churches. There are also many organizations, like the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, World Vision, the Young Women's and Young Men's Christian Associations and so forth, in which Christians from a wide variety of backgrounds work together and engage the churches across ecclesial and confessional boundaries.

Three movements have marked the life of the churches in the 20th century: the ecumenical movement, the pentecostal / charismatic movement and the evangelical movement. The latter began already in the middle of the 19th century and provided much of the breeding ground for the other two. In spite of their common roots, and their common goals of renewal, unity and proclamation of the gospel the three have largely developed in isolation of each other, without much interaction and at times openly opposing one another. All three movements claim to be the fruit of the Spirit. None of the three would be able to understand itself without believing that the extraordinary renewal and growth it has witnessed in so many churches and among so many Christians is the work of the Holy Spirit. None of the three has the right to deny the presence and guidance of the Spirit among the other. What does that say to us? Could it be that the Holy Spirit has moved in such confusing ways in the 20th century that we, at the dawn of the 21st century are left with seemingly insoluble divisions in Christianity?

The Global Christian Forum seeks to address these questions. It aims at creating new opportunities for contact between Christians and discussion of common concerns. The concept of such a new space which is not provided elsewhere was first proposed by Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches in the 1990s. It was entrusted to an autonomous Continuation Committee, which since 1998 has convened various meetings in order to refine and advance this vision.
Preparatory meetings leading up to the current gathering in Nairobi have been held in the US (at Fuller seminary in CA, in 2000 and 2002), Hong Kong (2004), Lusaka (2005) and Germany (2006) and in Santiago earlier in 2007.
The Global Christian Forum – Nairobi 2007: from 6 – 9 November in Nairobi, Kenya. It is this fully worldwide event that will bring into being the Global Christian Forum as a space « to foster mutual respect, to explore and address together common challenges ».

Prayer is at the heart of this venture. If you wish, join in
  • Thanking God for all that has been achieved so far

  • Asking God to direct and bless all that lies ahead.
Please keep this meeting in your prayers this week, y'all!

Some articles:

News release
on the meeting in Nairobi from the WCC.

The Global Christian Forum: Sojourners Magazine, February 2006

Global Christian Forum defines six aims: Christian Century, October 2000

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