The third gathering of the Global Christian Forum has called on Christians around the world to take up together the challenges of peace, unity and costly discipleship. The Forum connects the broadest range of global Christianity. Its third global gathering took place from 24-27 April in the Colombian capital Bogata. Some 251 church leaders from 55 nations took part in the event, representing almost all streams of global Christianity – including from the Anglican Communion.
“Against the backdrop of growing division in the world, the ‘meeting itself became a message’ of careful listening and respectful engagement across barriers of old enmities and historic separations,” the World Council of Churches said.
“In recognition of the churches of the host nation, the Message said participants ‘have listened to, and been inspired by, witnesses working for peace. We pray that the peace process may continue in Colombia and bring hope and reconciliation to those who are suffering and struggling.’”
Anglicans present at the gathering included Bishop Francisco Duque-Gomez from Columbia; the former Bishop of Christchurch in New Zealand, Victoria Matthews; the Bishop of the Cape Coast in the Province of West Africa, Victor Atta Bafoe; and the suffragan Bishop of Toronto in Canada, Jenny Andison.
Also present was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ecumenical advisor, the Revd Dr Will Adam; the director of the Church of Ireland’s Theological Institute, the Revd Canon Dr Maurice Elliot; Dr Paulo Ueti, regional co-ordinator for the Anglican Alliance; and the Anglican Communion’s director of Unity, Faith and Order, the Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut.
Other participants came from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Pentecostal World Fellowship, the World Council of Churches, the World Evangelical Alliance and many other Christian World Communions and international Christian organisations.
“The existence of the Global Christian Forum as a place where churches and church leaders who are often strangers to each other to come together in ‘mutual love’ is a realisation of the shared yearning for healing in the wounded body of Christ,” the GCF’s secretary, the Revd Dr Larry Miller, said.
Dr Miller said that GCF participants repeatedly affirmed the Forum as “an indispensable instrument for promoting Christian unity and engaging in conversation on the challenges Christian communities worldwide face today,” the WCC said.
“This gathering . . . has been a moment of tremendously improved relationships between all the participants, which reflects a new era of collaboration among the churches,” Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said. “I think the Global Christian Forum has shown that we do have a way forward, which is that we must not use our differences to stay apart and refuse collaboration. We need to see them as a certain contribution of richness to the whole Christian mission in the world.”
The Associate General Secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance, Dr Thomas Schirrmacher, described the Bogota gathering as “the Global Christian Forum at its best!”
He said: “To hear in small groups the personal faith stories of high-ranking Christians from all confessions – a mark of the GCF – was moving and eye-opening.
“At the same time, plenary presentations by the major expressions of Christianity on the future of ecumenical relations proved how much more friendly our relationships have become. We have matured to the point where we are more eager than ever to overcome major differences, yet without compromising our identities and biblical convictions.” [ACNS]