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GCF Bogotá – Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Rev. Dr Larry Miller introduces Hector Olimpo Espinosa Oliver on opening day of the Third Global Gathering of the Global Christian Forum. Photo: Albin Hilert/WCC

The Global Christian Forum’s Third Global Gathering has opened with a colorful session featuring prayer and devotion, greetings by the hosts and video presentations of Colombian churches of all traditions as well as greetings by the Colombian government.

From April 24-27 in Bogota, Colombia, it’s the first GCF global gathering in Latin America and in a Spanish-speaking country, providing a special fellowship opportunity for the vibrant churches of the region and enabling them to more deeply connect with churches around the world.

Welcoming participants with a scripture reading from Ephesians 1:3-14, Rev. Dr Larry Miller, Secretary of the GCF, spoke of the mystery of God’s plan from the beginning to “draw together all people in the Universe, all things in the cosmos”.

The GCF meeting brings together Christian leaders attending from 22 traditions and 64 countries from every region of the world.

Miller said: “It is my prayer that this place of our togetherness on the way will be a place where ‘seeing is believing’. The Third Global Gathering is not the place where all things and all people are gathered upon in unity in and through Jesus Christ. But it can be a station on the way.”

Diana Cruz, Coordinator of the Student Christian Movement in Bogota, and Jeferson Rodriguez, Pastor and Professor of the Assemblies of God in Colombia, then welcomed participants on behalf of all the host churches in Colombia.

Cruz and Rodriguez introduced participants to a Spanish song titled, ‘This hope will not disappoint us’.

Deeply connected

They shared how the passage of Romans 5:3-5 is deeply connected with the Colombian nation: suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character and character gives us hope, and hope will not disappoint us because God has poured down his love into our hearts.

“This is a text that has to do with the suffering in our nation, and the perseverance,” they shared. “The [Colombian] national anthem literally says that in pain the good is growing.”

A series of short videos then revealed the diversity of Christianity in Colombia, including the Assemblies of God, the Anglican Communion, Baptists, the Catholic Church, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, as well as Christian organizations: World Vision, the Young Women Christian Association, and World Student Christian Federation.

The presentations showed the breadth of engagement of the churches in the country, ranging from missional outreach to providing access to education, from medical assistance, relief and development to promotion of justice and peace-building, and more.

Héctor Olimpo Espinosa Oliver, Deputy Minister for Political Relations of the Ministry of the Interior, concluded the session by warmly welcoming the participants on behalf of the government of Colombia.

Commenting on the role of churches in the unique Colombian context, Oliver testified that “all the churches and faith-based organization […] have contributed significantly with their sacrifices and many contributions towards peace-building and reconciliation.

“Religious institution and organizations in Colombia were transformed into peace agents. They became peace agents and through their influence in government positions. And through their influence whenever decisions were made contributed to peace,” Espinosa Oliver added.

The GCF’s gathering in Bogota is the most comprehensive gathering of global Christian leadership in contemporary Christianity today.

The coming days will see opportunities for participants to share their faith stories, engage in conversation across countries, regions, and church traditions, and discus the common challenges that the global Church faces today.

The GCF as a forum is a safe space for Christian faith to be shared across traditions. It does not seek to be an organisation or to replace other ecclesial bodies. Participants are drawn together for discussion, prayer and to explore common challenges.

Photos from the GCF Global Gathering in Bogota

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