Diverse Christians discuss unity at historic global forum

Published January 2, 2008

Leaders meeting in Kenya belonging to all main Christian traditions, and from countries ranging from Armenia to Zimbabwe, pledged recently to convene international, local and regional meetings to deepen reconciliation and understanding.

“Recognizing that unity is first and foremost God’s gift through the work of the Holy Spirit, our commitment is to press on in promoting ever greater understanding and cooperation among Christians, while respecting the diversity of our identities, traditions and individual gifts,” the leaders said in a statement at the end of the November meeting.

The gathering, called the Global Christian Forum, brought together about 240 leaders from Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Pentecostal and other churches, and international organizations

“This is an historic event for world Christianity,” said Roman Catholic Archbishop Fernando Capalla from Davao, in the Philippines.

The forum idea was originally proposed in the mid-1990s by Rev. Konrad Raiser, a German theologian who was then-general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC). He suggested a forum could reach out to Roman Catholic, Pentecostal and Evangelical churches that do not belong to the Geneva-based WCC grouping, whose 347 member churches are drawn predominantly from Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox traditions.

The WCC said the forum brought together the broadest range of Christian traditions ever gathered at a global meeting.

“I think the expectations have been met. We have a set of good proposals to go into the future,” said Hubert Van Beek, the main organizer of the meeting.

Still, he acknowledged areas where more discussion was needed between the various Christian traditions.

“That is something you cannot solve in one meeting. We need to do more work,” said Hubert Van Beek, the main organizer of the meeting. Participants agreed to continue the process as a forum with a small structure.


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