Global Christian Forum Shares Message That We Will 'Act for the Restoration of the World'

People exited church after observing closing prayer in the Accra Ridge Church at the conclusion of the fourth global gathering of the Global Christian Forum on 19 April 2024, Accra, Ghana.
People exited church after observing closing prayer in the Accra Ridge Church at the conclusion of the fourth global gathering of the Global Christian Forum on 19 April 2024, Accra, Ghana. (photo: Albin Hillert/WCC)
By World Council of ChurchesApril 25th, 2024

For the first time, a young gathering preceded the main forum. “The diversity and vision of the young adults gave energy to their own conversations about justice, hope, and reconciliation,” reads the forum’s message.

As the Global Christian Forum celebrated its 25th anniversary, those gathered noted that sharing faith stories is vital. “These personal stories act as bridges that help us foster mutual respect and embrace diversity by recognising Christ in the other,” the message reads. “They help us move beyond a posture of ‘us’ and ‘them.’ "

The Global Christian Forum also lamented as they stood in the very places where enslaved African men, women, and children were kept in dark, stifling dungeons—in Cape Coast Castle—spaces made more horrifying by the presence of a church directly above.

“Those above invoked blessings for the ships that would forcibly take the captives to the Americas, Caribbean, and Europe as objects of lucrative trade,” describes the message. “Sadly, as we continued to share amongst ourselves, we heard stories of continuing dehumanisation across the world today.”

The message also reflects on how we are healed through Christ. “We are empowered by the Spirit to act for the restoration of the world,” the text reads. “The church must raise its prophetic voice.”

God calls us to deeper conversion and unity, the message concludes. “We know the very credibility of our faith depends on how we reflect the depth of God’s love for all,” the message reads.

Greetings, hopes, aspirations

As he shared greetings, Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, expressed fervent hopes and aspirations of a global community that yearns for a world reconciled, just, and united.

“Our world needs a spiritual and moral renewal; it needs us to speak prophetically and with one voice to the challenges of our times and we can succeed by constantly allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us and with us and through us to transform the world,” Pillay said. “Discipleship in the school of Christ’s love commits us to embark on a spiritual journey that will continually challenge us and shape us into people who reflect the Lord Jesus Christ in our actions, words, and attitudes.”

Pillay saw the global gathering as a unique opportunity to weave together the narratives of faith traditions and cultures. 

“Each step we take, each story we hear, and each encounter we experience brings us closer to painful histories of suffering and divisions, but also to stories of faith, commitment, and resilience,” he said. 

Dr William Wilson, chair of the Pentecostal World Fellowship, expressed appreciation for getting to better know his brothers and sisters in Christ.

“These are dangerous, tumultuous times and also exciting, spiritually exhilarating times,” he said. “These are days of drama and trauma and yet days of power and progress for the message of Jesus.”

Creation is groaning and lives are moaning, he added. 

“Our world of the 21st century needs the message of the cross and the hope of the empty tomb,” he Wilson said. “Because the population of the world is larger than it has ever been, the need for this hope is greater than it has ever been.”

Archbishop Prof. Dr Thomas Schirrmacher, former secretary general of the World Evangelical Alliance, reflected on the world Christian family. “God knows whether this person or that person is part of His family or not,” said Schirrmacher. “We have this joint faith.”

It is important to study, together, aspects of this faith, Schirrmacher added.

"We are talking about our God we share,” he said. “We have a specific history of our faith.”

He suggested, at times, switching from the term “mission” to the term “witness.”

“We have the same Holy Scripture on which we are based,” he said. 

Archbishop Flavio Pace, secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, expressed appreciation for the global diversity at the gathering. “While seeking solutions to doctrinal divergences is essential for achieving full visible unity, exchanging faith experiences, deepening mutual understanding, and strengthening links of Christian fraternity among believers are equally vital,” he said. “This gathering is a compelling witness to our unity in several ways.”

The gathering manifested a sense of common belonging to Christ, Pace pointed out. “It creates an open space where all are valued and respected as members of the same body of Christ across denominational lines,” he said. “It fosters a profound sense of kinship and brotherhood when we pray together, exchange personal and ecclesial faith experiences, and discuss issues of common interest.”

Messages from across the globe

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople recalled the history of the Global Christian Forum. “From its humble beginnings, it has blossomed into a space where Christians from all over the world and from diverse traditions come together to share their path to faith in Christ, worship the Lord, foster mutual respect, and address common theological and social challenges,” he said. “Let us continue to walk together in the spirit of love and solidarity, bearing witness to the Gospel's transformative power in our world today.”

Pope Francis expressed appreciation for the “beautiful mosaic of contemporary Christianity” present at the gathering. “Unity is an indispensable element for embracing the vision of the Kingdom of God,” he said. “As such, there is an intrinsic bond between ecumenical and Christian mission.”

Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, former WCC general secretary, also reflected on the rich history of the Global Christian Forum. “So, the forum in these 25 years has been able to generate a new spirit of respect and trust between all those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ and thus to strengthen their common witness in the contemporary world,” he said. “It is my sincere hope and prayer that the activities and the initiatives of the Forum may continue to flourish and to be blessed.”

Read in full: Message of the Fourth Global Gathering

Originally from Webpage "The WCC"

CCD edited and reprinted with permission

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