Global Consultation Discusses Issues
Concerning the Church’s ‘Call to Mission and Perceptions of Proselytism’
Accra, Ghana, 8-11 June 2017
‘Go then to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptise them in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey all I have commanded you.’ (Matthew 28:19,20)
An international consultation of some thirty theologians and church leaders from a wide range of Christian traditions gathered in Accra, Ghana, to explore “perceptions of proselytism” in the exercise of the universal mandate to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
The gathering was convened by the Global Christian Forum, whose purpose is to provide space in which Christians from a wide variety of churches and traditions meet together to foster mutual respect and address common challenges. In these conversations, experiences and perceptions of ‘proselytism’ have emerged as major themes. ‘Proselytism” is defined in multiple ways but is often understood as unethical or unfaithful practices in evangelizing those who are in some way already members of other churches or Christian communities.
Planning and implementation were undertaken together with Catholic Church (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity), the Pentecostal World Fellowship, the World Council of Churches, and the World Evangelical Alliance.
Beginning from a strong commitment to witness to the good news of Jesus Christ, the consultation heard keynote addresses which examined ‘the call to mission in today’s context’ and stressed the need for ongoing Christian formation in all communities.
Examining the situation in a wide variety of global contexts, participants also acknowledged ways in which each of their traditions had been complicit in improper behaviour. They told stories of both divisive and reconciling experiences, and expressed hope that this historical moment offers unique opportunities for progress together toward common witness.
The consultation is part of an ongoing process working toward a common Statement to be signed together by the four co-sponsoring bodies, with others invited also to join in support. A working draft was considered, and further steps identified for the next year.
The consultation was generously hosted by the Church of Pentecost at its Convention Centre.
Bogotá, Colombia to host Global Christian Forum 3rd Global Gathering
The city of Bogotá, the capital of Colombia in South America, will be the location for the Global Christian Forum’s next Global Gathering, April 23 (arrival) – 28 (departure), 2018.
The theme of the four day conference will be, ‘Let mutual love continue’, a quote from the New Testament book of Hebrews (13:1).
It is only the third global gathering of the Global Christian Forum, one of the world’s most diverse global Christian ‘spaces’, in which at least six streams of world Christianity meet. Participation in the Forum is shaped by a series of balances – of a 50:50 ratio between leaders of ‘older’ churches (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant) and ‘younger’ churches (Evangelical, Pentecostal, Independent).
It is the first GCF global gathering on the South American continent and the first in a Spanish-speaking nation. Previous global gatherings were in Africa (Kenya, 2007) and Asia (Indonesia, 2011).
The GCF will be issuing invitations to the gathering in the next two months. Invitations are based upon recommendations from global churches and communions as well as international and regional church-related organisations.
Secretary of the Global Christian Forum, Revd Dr Larry Miller, said the Third Global Gathering offers a unique ‘platform ‘ for exchange between church leaders at a significant time in world Christianity: “The GCF is a ’forum’, a place for leaders from across the spectrum of Christianity globally to meet for inspiration and insight on matters of common interest as they face the future together.
“We will hear also of what has occurred in participating churches and in the Forum since our last global gathering, especially developments of significance for all churches.
Miller said, “The gathering will be ‘relational, testimonial, and missional’ in nature and outcome, and will involve careful conversation, listening, and prayer as we put directly into practice with one another the theme of the gathering, ‘let mutual love continue’.”
Four global Christian bodies are key ‘pillars’ of the Global Christian Forum: the Pentecostal World Fellowship, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (Vatican), the World Council of Churches, and the World Evangelical Alliance. Their leaders will all be present, together with leaders of many other world churches and international Christian organisations.